The Saints project to have big salary cap problems after the season. Harper would count for $3.15 million against the cap, is 31 years old and has played more of a part-time role this year. He also missed seven games with a knee injury and has declined as a player. The Saints could still bring Harper back in 2014 if he agrees to a restructured contract.
Harper was a second-round draft pick in 2006 and has spent his entire career with the Saints. He went to the Pro Bowl twice and thrived under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, but was at the forefront of two big playoff losses. Harper had a moment of ignominy in the Saints' historic playoff upset by the Seahawks, getting stiff-armed by Marshawn Lynch during Lynch's 67-yard touchdown run to seal the game.