People familiar with the situation say defensive end Will Smith and Vilma has agreed to restructure his contract in order to remain with the New Orleans Saints.|||||||
The 31-year-old Smith and 30-year-old Vilma, both veteran defensive captains who were implicated in the NFL's bounty probe, would have consumed about $23 million combined in salary cap space had they not agreed to new deals before the new league year - and free agency - began Tuesday afternoon.
Vilma has asked a federal judge to allow him to move forward with his defamation case against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.|||||||
In a motion filed Wednesday, Vilma drops his case against the NFL's disciplinary process, now that his suspension has been lifted. However, he continues to pursue damages from Goodell for harm he alleges was done to his reputation by the NFL's bounty probe of the New Orleans Saints. In an NFL appeal ruling Tuesday, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue threw out suspensions for Vilma and three other current and former Saints in connection with the bounty investigation.
Saints defensive end Will Smith says he and linebacker Jonathan Vilma will be present Friday when their lawyers cross examine former New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in Washington, D.C. Williams appears at a bounty hearing on Friday morning, according to a schedule set by Paul Tagliabue. The former NFL commissioner has been appointed to oversee the latest round of player appeals in the matter.|||||||
Smith and Vilma will leave Atlanta after Thursday night's game against the Falcons. They are among four players issued suspensions of various lengths in the league's probe of the Saints' cash-for-hits program. Smith and Vilma are playing while their appeals are pending. Williams and former Saints assistant Mike Cerullo were two of the NFL's central witnesses in the probe. Cerullo's appearance is scheduled for Thursday.
Vilma hopes to play a bigger role on the Saints' defense in his second game of the season Sunday against Denver. He said his knee, and his entire body, held up very well after the Tampa Bay game. He did not make a tackle but had one deflection and forced a near interception.|||||||
Playing for the first time while appealing his season-long suspension for his role in the New Orleans' bounty program, Vilma played 18 snaps last Sunday against Tampa Bay. Vilma declined Friday to talk about any bounty-related topics leading into his appeals hearing Tuesday with former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who will decide whether to uphold Roger Goodell's ruling.
Vilma played for the first time on Sunday while appealing a season-long suspension due to his role in the Saints' bounty program, recording one quarterback hit and breaking up one pass.|||||||
New Orleans still gave up a season-high 513 yards, but players said Vilma's return provided an emotional lift.