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NFL Free Agency 2013: No News on Roman Harper Puzzling

The lack of buzz concerning Harper breeds some questions

Kevin C. Cox

News came slowly but surely from the New Orleans Saints yesterday on the fates of LB Jonathan Vilma and DE Will Smith with the team for the upcoming season. Both players had agreed to restructure their contracts, not only to remain with the Saints, but help them get under the salary cap as well.

Smith agreed to reduce his base salary of $9 million to $3 million while Vilma dropped his from $4.8 million to a mere $1 million. This not only got the Saints under the salary cap but gave them just a bit of breathing room as well. Amidst these moves, one that everyone was waiting for but never came was the decision concerning safety Roman Harper.

Like Smith and Vilma, Harper was expected to be offered the same deal going into free agency: restructure or get released. In fact it's truly puzzling considering Harper would be the one closer to the chopping block than Smith or Vilma simply due to his inconsistent play over the past several years.

Harper's best year seemed to be in 2007 when he registered 75 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 3 interceptions. The arrival of former Saints safety Darren Sharper helped garner Harper a Pro Bowl spot for the 2009 season but that was the big shining moment for him.

Since then Harper only excels in one area at a time, be it tackles (115 in 2012), sacks(7.5 in 2011), or getting burned in coverage (teams like the San Francisco 49ers actually designed passing plays against him). This leaves the question as to why Harper, who is due $5.25 million in base salary in 2013, wasn't one of the first in line for a contract restructure.

One point brought up yesterday in discussions was the possibility of a trade with another team for his services. A possibility of a reunion with his former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is now with the Tennessee Titans. Williams was a big fan of Harper's when no one else was.

But don't expect a huge draft pick here if it happens. Harper was a second round pick in 2006 and the Saints would be lucky to get a fifth round for him.

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