METAIRIE, La. - The New Orleans Saints have said they have terminated the contracts of veterans Will Smith, Roman Harper and Jabari Greer and won't re-sign Jonathan Vilma.
The club announced the decision on its website Wednesday afternoon, hours after reports surfaced that the team would release at least two of the players.
The move is an effort to clear salary cap room, in part to re-sign All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham.
Each of the four players were part of the Super Bowl-winning team.
“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... 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.”
"While it was always my dream to retire as a member of the New Orleans Saints, I recognize that the NFL remains a business first," said defensive end WIll Smith. "I will always be grateful to Mr. Benson, Mr. Loomis, and Coach Payton for the opportunity they gave me to play the sport I love in front of football’s greatest fans, amongst some of my best friends. We accomplished great things during my time with the Saints, including winning the first Super Bowl in franchise history, and I am proud of my contributions during the decade I wore black and gold. My wife Racquel and I will continue our commitment to improving lives for New Orleans' youth no matter where my next stop in professional football takes me. I'm in good spirits, thankful and focused on training. My family and I welcome the next chapter in our NFL life. Who Dat!"