Another fan favorite is out the door, as Darren Sproles is reportedly being released by the New Orleans Saints before the beginning of the free agency period, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
The #Saints are cutting RB Darren Sproles, per source.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 7, 2014
In addition to racking up the most career kickoff return yards (6,469) by any player in Chargers history, Sproles has set several NFL records, and a franchise record with the Saints:
- Most All-purpose yards in a single season: 2,696 (2011)
- Most All-purpose yardage in a playoff game (2008)
- Most combined total return yards in a two-game playoff span: 602 (2008)
Saints franchise records
- Most All-purpose yards (season): 2,696 (2011)
The team was reportedly looking to trade Darren Sproles earlier this week, but apparently have decided to release both him and WR Lance Moore ahead of Tuesday's deadline. Sproles had one year remaining on his four-year, $14 million contract with the New Orleans Saints, but the Saints save $3.5 million by cutting him now.
The diminutive all-purpose back has proven quite productive for the team since he joined Drew Brees in New Orleans from the San Diego Chargers. In 2011, he racked up over 1,000 yards by his seventh game of the season, and went on to set the NFL record for most all-purpose yards in a season. He has been a favorite weapon (and safety valve) for QB Drew Brees -- who lobbied for the Saints to grab him from San Diego -- for the last three years. However, his production in 2013 was not quite on par with previous years. This past season, Sproles rushed 53 times for 220 yards and caught 71 passes for 604 yards. He also scored four total touchdowns.
Sproles still has enough production that he probably wouldn't be on the chopping block were it not for the salary cap hit. But the Saints seem to be cleaning house to pay star TE Jimmy Graham, and focusing on developing younger talent.
Is the decision to release these fan favorites earlier than necessary a decision made out of some sense of loyalty... that they might have a head start in the upcoming free agency period? Only the Saints can answer that, though it wouldn't be unreasonable for upset fans to try and find that silver lining.
[UPDATE:] There is another report that Sproles has not been cut yet, but they're still trying to trade him. In the event that they can't move him, then he will be cut.
Per source, Darren Sproles not cut yet. Could be traded. If not traded, will be cut.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) March 7, 2014
It seems unlikely that another team would trade for him if they know he will be hitting the free market shortly. Either way, it looks like No.43 won't be on the field with the Saints in 2014.
Thank you New Orleans for your support over the past 3 years! I will always be forever grateful. #WhoDat— Darren Sproles (@DarrenSproles) March 8, 2014