Four Saints’ veterans will not go marching into the Super Dome wearing black and gold next season.
The New Orleans Saints announced Wednesday that they have terminated the contracts of safety Roman Harper, defensive end Will Smith, and corner back Jabari Greer. Additionally, they have announced they will not re-sign linebacker Jon Vilma.
All four were considered to be leaders of the 2009 Super Bowl winning defense. Between them, they’ve accounted for five Pro Bowl appearances.
Saints’ general manager Mickey Loomis commented on the difficulty of this decision. “These were not easy decisions to make,” Loomis told NewOrleansSaints.com, “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”.
Head coach Sean Payton said that these four guys were “right there at the top” of the list when it comes to players he’s coached, and that “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”.
Teammates took to Twitter to share their opinions of the move:
— Lance Moore (@LanceMoore16) February 13, 2014
— Benjamin Watson (@BenjaminSWatson) February 13, 2014
Ex-Saints tweeted their support:
— steve gleason (@TeamGleason) February 12, 2014
— Scott Fujita (@sfujita55) February 12, 2014
And the men themselves wished a fond farewell to their fans:
Couple pro bowls and a superbowl ring later, I couldn’t have written that chapter any better. #WhoDat
— Jonathan Vilma (@JonVilma51) February 12, 2014
While it was always my dream to retire as a member of the New Orleans Saints, I recognize that the NFL (cont) http://t.co/1qmpSgcTCS
— Will Smith (@iWillSmith) February 13, 2014
— Roman Harper (@Harp41) February 12, 2014
All four left an indelible mark on Saint history, but it’s hard to escape the impact of Roman Harper. Harper was the heart and soul of that defense for nearly eight years, he’s the only safety in Saints history to be selected to two Pro Bowls (2009 and 2010), and his 17 takedowns are the most in by a defensive back in club history.
The front office surely had their reasons for letting these guys go, but that doesn’t make that decision any easier. All that’s certain right now, is that it’s the end of an era in New Orleans.
To paraphrase Chaucer: “All good things must come to an end”