After Further Review: Saints respecting Vilma, Smith by restructure offer

AP photo
AP photo

We all knew it was coming.  Something inevitably had to change. The question was how would the Saints pursue the futures of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith.

It appears we finally got our answer.

Fox 8 Sports' Fred Hickman has confirmed an ESPN report that the Saints have asked Vilma and Smith to restructure their contracts.

It's a sign of respect , in my opinion, to two of their longtime warriors.

The truth is the Saints don't have to ask Vilma or Smith to do anything.  They could flat out release both, eat the guaranteed portion of their salary and take their much-needed cap savings. It happens all the time with older, expensive  veterans in the NFL. Even ones as revered as Vilma and Smith. Just ask All-Pro safety Charles Woodson who was cut by the Green Bay Packers last week.

But unlike Woodson and the Packers, it appears the Saints are going to give two of their glue guys the option of sticking around, but at a much lower rate.

Understand, this will not be the same restructured option offered and accepted by linebacker Curtis Lofton. Lofton shifted money around but didn't lose a dime. Vilma and Smith will have to take pay cuts. Big ones.

It's the reality of a team reportedly $20 million over the salary cap and with $8.6 million and $14 million cap hits, respectively, Vilma and Smith are prime targets.

Neither player is the first and won't be the last to be asked to restructure their contracts in what promises to be an offseason full of cost-cutting. But if both men want to be here when it's done, they'll have to give back a big chunk of their scheduled earnings to do so.