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Smith, Vilma take big paycuts to stay with Saints

saints logoSaints defensive end Will Smith and linebacker Jonathan Vilma remain with the club, but under dramatically reduced salaries.

Smith, a first round pick in 2004, took a $6 million reduction in base pay, according to league documents reviewed by WGNO Sports. Smith’s base was $9 million. It drops to $3 million for 2013.

Vilma’s base salary dropped from $4.8 million to $1 million.

Smith started all 16 games last season, collecting 6 quarterback sacks. Smith has 67.5 sacks in his NFL career, all with the Saints. Will Smith and wide receiver Devery Henderson are the longest tenured Saints. Both were drafted in 2004.

Vilma was suspended for the entire season for his alleged role in the Saints bounty program. His penalties were later vacated on appeal by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Vilma played in 11 games, starting 10. He had 37 tackles.

Saints head coach Sean Payton said both would have roles in the Saints new 3-4 defensive scheme, if they could agree on new deals.