The NFL on Monday didn’t process any official transactions involving Saints running back Darren Sproles, who three days earlier was the subject of media reports stating he’d either be cut or traded.
The 30-year-old himself has indicated via Twitter that he’s on his way off the team, on Friday posting, “Thank you New Orleans for your support over the past 3 years! I will always be forever grateful. #Who Dat.” But nothing official had happened as the beginning of the NFL’s free agency signing period at 3 p.m. on Tuesday neared.
Shortly after joining the Saints in free agency in 2011, Sproles set an NFL single-season record with 2,696 all-purpose yards as New Orleans got to the divisional round of the playoffs. However, his production dropped in each of the next two campaigns.
Sproles had 1,577 all-purpose yards in 2012, during which the Saints finished 7-9 and missed the postseason. In 2013, as New Orleans again reached the divisional round, he tallied 1,273 all-purpose yards, a drop of 53 percent from what he had in 2011.
His release would save the Saints $3.5 million for the purposes of the 2014 salary cap, which was set at $133 million.
Sproles — who had a total of 1,067 rushing yards, 1,981 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns for New Orleans — might become the latest of several fan-favorites with whom the Saints have recently parted ways. In February, New Orleans cut linebacker/defensive end Will Smith, safety Roman Harper and cornerback Jabari Greer. Wide receiver Lance Moore was let go Friday.
In all, the releases have cleared $19.6 million of cap space. Releasing Sproles would increase that to $23.1 million, which would give the Saints about $6.2 million to use on All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham (handed the franchise tag on Feb. 28) and on re-signing some of their own unrestricted free agents.
The NFL’s free agency signing period coincides with the start of a new league year. A 72-hour free agency negotiating window opened Saturday.
In other news of interest to the Saints:
– After visiting the Saints in February, free-agent safety Louis Delmas has agreed to terms with Miami, according to Pro Football Talk.