NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - The New Orleans Saints announced Wednesday that the team has terminated the contracts of Jabari Greer (CB), Roman Harper (S) and Will Smith (DE/OLB) and that they will not re-sign Jonathan Vilma (LB).
"I have coached and been around a lot of great players and I put these four guys right there at the top," said Saints Head Coach Sean Payton. "Jabari, Roman, Will and Jonathan all represent and epitomize what we look for in our players. These are disciplined, smart, tough and team-oriented individuals. They all played an important role in helping this team and this city win its first Super Bowl and they have all enjoyed multiple playoff appearances and wins."
The Saints are estimated to be in the range of $12-15 million over the cap and will need more space to re-sign or use the franchise tag on tight end Jimmy Graham.
"These were not easy decisions to make," said Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis. "Since we acquired them, Jabari, Roman, Will and Jonathan have all been excellent players on the field for us. Each of them were integral parts in turning this program around and winning a Super Bowl. They were a great example to our players as team leaders in the locker room as well. Will and Roman were two of the better draft picks we have made. Jonathan Vilma has been one of our best trades ever and Jabari Greer has been one of our best free agent signings. These are the kinds of players and people you hope to acquire. However, a new NFL year is about to begin and, with the start of free agency in March, these difficult moves allow us to position our team under the salary cap to move forward for 2014."
The Saints drafted Smith out of Ohio State in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He ended his Saints career with 363 tackles (255 solo), 67.5 sacks, two interceptions, 24 passes defensed, 19 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. Smith would have earned $11.55 million in the final year of his contract.
Harper was drafted by the Saints in 2006 out of Alabama. With New Orleans he made 743 tackles, had 17 sacks, seven interceptions and 13 forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Harper would have earned $3.15 million this season.
Greer was signed by the Saints in 2009 after playing with Buffalo for five season. Greer had nine interceptions (two for touchdowns), 290 tackles, 68 passes defensed, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. In 2013, Greer's season ended after suffering a knee injury vs. San Francisco on November 17.
Vilma was acquired by the Saints in a trade in the 2008 with the New York Jets. With the Saints Vilma recorded 530 tackles (331 solo), eight sacks, six interceptions, 27 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries.
"I would like to thank Jabari, Roman, Will and Jonathan for their contributions on and off the field for the New Orleans Saints over the past several years," said Saints owner Tom Benson. "All four of them played important roles in the success of our club and were great players and teammates. In addition, all of them made a significant impact in our community, especially with our youth and helping serve the less fortunate. On behalf of our organization and our fans, we appreciate everything that they have done for us and wish them continued success."