Will Smith joins first wave of Saints Cuts, along with Jonathan Vilma and Jabari Greer

Stacy Revere

The New Orleans Saints have announced their first wave of salary cap cuts, adding Smith, Vilma and Greer to the leaked Harper release.

Linebacker/defensive end Will Smith has been released by the New Orleans Saints, according to a tweet from the official team account.  So have Jabari Greer, Jonathan Vilma, and Roman Harper (as we reported immediately after he leaked the news).

Will Smith

Year Base S. Bonus Misc. Cap Hit Dead
2008 700,000 2,750,000 - 3,450,000 -
2009 1,070,000 2,000,000 5,600,000 8,670,000 -
2010 1,930,000 2,000,000 7,000,000 10,930,000 -
2011 6,000,000 2,000,000 150,000 8,150,000 -
2012 825,000 2,000,000 2,502,451 5,327,451 -
2013 3,000,000 2,000,000 3,502,451 7,602,447 6,704,902
2014 10,400,000 - 3,502,451 13,902,451 2,352,451

Smith was the organization's best pass rusher and most consistent defensive lineman for nearly a decade.  A first-round draft pick in 2004, the 32-year-old was also the longest-tenured player on the roster.

Like many Saints, Smith's best year came in 2009.  He had 13 sacks and started all three games during their Super Bowl run, and he ranks fourth in Saints history with 67.5 career sacks.  His success has made him a beloved figure in the city of New Orleans, and he has been one of the few players featured on large banners advertising the team at the Superdome.

Despite Will Smith's popularity among fans and fellow players, the news of his release does not come as a surprise.  He had a cap number of $13.9 million in 2014, so this was a move the Saints had to make.  Of that number, his 2014 base salary would have accounted for $10.4 million.

After the defender had a few down years, the Saints kept No.91 around at a bloated salary last year and were going to ask him to change positions.  He never had a chance to overcome his downward trend, however, as his season ended with a torn ACL in August.

It was a disappointing end to an incredible ten-year run with the team.

Jonathan Vilma and Jabari Greer each merit articles of their own, but for now here is the information about the contracts they held until this afternoon (from spotrac.com):

Jonathan Vilma

Year Base S. Bonus Misc. Cap Hit Dead
2012 1,600,000 500,000 2,832,500 4,932,500 -
2013 1,000,000 500,000 2,332,500 3,832,500 2,732,500

Jabari Greer

Year Base S. Bonus Misc. Cap Hit Dead
2012 2,400,000 2,075,000 100,000 4,575,000 -
2013 3,600,000 1,325,000 550,000 5,475,000 4,475,000
2014 4,000,000 1,325,000 500,000 5,825,000 2,650,000
2015 4,200,000 1,325,000 500,000 6,025,000 1,325,000

Jonathan Vilma was a free agent in 2014, so the Saints simply aren't giving him a new contract.  However, the team will save another $3.2 million in 2014, and $4.7 million in 2015 with the Greer release.  With today's moves, New Orleans has dropped roughly $16.9 million from their 2014 cap hit.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that other big cuts are coming. Wide receiver Lance Moore is another name to watch for.

Tom Benson, Mickey Loomis, and Sean Payton had this to say today regarding the cuts:

"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/Chairman of the Board 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."

"These were not easy decisions to make," said 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."

"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."

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