Jonathan Vilma tweeted late Wednesday afternoon that reports of him being traded to the Philadelphia Eagles were incorrect.
He was heading to Philadelphia for another reason.
And that might spell the end for Vilma, who already has had multiple knee surgeries in his 10-year career.
That includes a procedure done in Germany in 2012 in which he went through platelet-rich plasma therapy, a blood-spinning technique that in theory allows blood plasma full of platelets to quicken the healing process.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Vilma’s 2011 season included five missed games because of a knee injury and he began 2012 on the physically unable to perform list because of the knee. Now this.
He also has missed six of the past eight practices and didn’t play in New Orleans’ preseason opener this past Friday.
Though Vilma is only expected to miss the final three weeks of preseason, his near month-long absence is an opportunity for David Hawthorne, a high-priced linebacker who has yet to deliver as a free agent.
Hawthorne is set to make $1 million in base salary this season. He played in 11 games for the Saints in 2012 and finished with 43 tackles, his lowest output since his 2008 rookie season despite registering 10 starts. A hamstring injury held him back for five games in the first half of the season.
But he has potential. From 2009 to 2011, he finished with no fewer than 105 tackles. In 2011, he finished with 115 total stops, two sacks, three interceptions and one fumble recovery. He led Seattle in tackles that season.
Vilma’s setback is just another injury to a defense that is quickly losing the depth it gained in offseason acquisitions.
The hope now is that New Orleans gets out of the rest of preseason relatively unscathed.