Will Smith is scheduled to make... $7 million this season, plus a $1 million dollar roster bonus due on 3/27. We should find out before 3/27 if the Saints decide to release him to avoid that roster bonus $1 million, or if they attempt to re-structure his deal. Smith is also due $9 million in 2013 and $10.4 million in a voidable 2014. As he seems to be a declining player at this point, I can't imagine the Saints are prepared to pay him $9 million in 2013, so even if they do pay his roster bonus on 3/27 and don't touch his contract this season, you have to figure this is going to come up again 12 months later.
Jonathan Vilma is coming off a brutal year which saw him miss some games and play well below his usual ability due to a knee injury. At this point the big question is whether or not he can bounce back to play like he did in his prime, or is his recent decline the beginning of the end? Vilma is scheduled to make a more reasonable $5.4 million in 2012 and $5.9 million in 2013, but the Saints are tight on money this year and they're possibly looking to shave costs wherever they can.
Make no mistake, Vilma and Smith are both huge parts of the team and losing them would be a huge blow. Not only are they fantastic football players when their bodies are right, they're also captains and they've created the soul and fabric of the locker room. Missing those two personalities on the roster would be as difficult as it is stupid. But, at the end of the day, the NFL is a business and you could definitely argue that at this point in their careers they are not performing to the level of their contracts. As much as their defense has struggled, those two have been integral. And the main reason for the unit's struggles, to be honest, are due at least in part to them both struggling with injuries in the last few years that have prevented them from performing at their peak level.
So we'll need to see if the Saints are committed to keeping both if they are willing to re-work their deals to ease up on the Saints' possible forthcoming cap issues. I believe they will be. So the next question is whether or not Smith and Vilma are open to making less to remain in black and gold. These guys are prideful players with Pro Bowl resumes, so while I have no doubt they are fully committed to the Saints, I have no idea how they'll feel about attempts to re-work their respective contracts. But be forewarned, this is a big danger this offseason and there is a risk the Saints will tackle 2012 without either player on the roster. I hope to keep both, but it will take much work to ensure that, and their contract situation should at the very least be a big concern to all Saints fans that undoubtedly want to see them back.
Vilma is a leader with a great knowledge of the game. He could still get a contract close to the 5 million elsewhere in a team needing a seasoned veteran on their team. Smith on the other hand could not get a contract like that anywhere so for him it is either restructure and make less money at the saints or make less money elsewhere. And that descission depends on how he thinks he fits in Spagnola's D
Of the two, I would like to keep Vilma more. I think that Vilma can bounce back, better from his Knee issues, and still is the captain of the D. Will is not playing at the level which he was playing at when he got his current contract. True he has never had the pressure from the opposite side, to take the pressure of being double-timed, off him, but he has slowed even then. Vilma, is important, not only for his playing ability, when healthy, but because he can read the O, and adjust on the fly. This would make him a big loss in that respect. As I've stated before, Dubar, played well, in his stead, when called to do so.
Noticed you left out another cash option, in Roman Harper. This might also be a better option to free up some space than Vilma. especially as, he doesn't exactly fit in with Spag's scheme, like he did with GW.
@cajuncommando58 not a bad call on Harper being done. My hope is both Smith and Vilma will re-structure. I don't see either coming back at their current contract.
@SaintsNation Yeah, I would be fine with Will staying, but he would have to realize he doesn't deserve the contract he originally was given, based on his performance the last two years. Will has been a victim of not having the talent opposite him through much of his career, but he has lost a step. I'm not a Harper hater now. He just isn't worth the cap hit to us with his contract either. Was surprised he got that much last year, but that may have been Loomis, tying up some space, in case he needed to make some adjustments this year. He knew this was going to be an expensive year. He had a lot of free agents to deal with last year also, but not ones requiring the dollars that this years, FA's do.