Ever year prior to the start of NFL Free agency, there is at least one players who is released that no one saw coming. After the New Orleans Saints were unable to sign tight end Jimmy Graham to a long-term extension, they slapped the franchise tag on him in hopes of buying more time.
That led to the Saints placing several players on the trading block, including running back Darren Sproles, who was set to make 3.5 million this coming season. That seems like a modest price for the league's bet pass-catching running back, but the Saints are in desperate need of cap space to sign Graham to a long-term deal.
On the heels of free agency opening for agents to talk to NFL teams, the Saints have dropped a bombshell by cutting Sproles:
Releasing #Saints RB Darren Sproles saves$3.5M & continues the house cleaning of sorts on offense. Lance Moore cut, Pierre Thomas in danger— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 7, 2014
Sproles signed a 4-yr, $14M with Saints after 2011 lockout. Had 5,546 all-purpose yds & 22 TDs in last 3 seasons.— Brian McIntyre (@brian_mcintyre) March 7, 2014
Surprised the Saints would cut Sproles (savings of $3.5 million) before Pierre Thomas ($2.9 million) given skillsets of them, Ingram— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) March 7, 2014
Several teams might be looking for running back help, and the Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins are a few teams that could be interested in Sproles, who should find a new team rather quickly.
He is coming off the worst statistical season of his career with "just" 1,273 all-purpose yards. This move comes just hours after the team cut longtime wide receiver Lance Moore. New Orleans saves over $2.531 million against the cap with the move but also incurs $2.5 million in dead money.