New Orleans also waived veteran linebacker Ramon Humber.
Evans started 153 games for the Saints since 2006 and was a four-time first-team All-Pro. Hawthorne started the majority of the past four seasons after signing with New Orleans in 2012. Humber, a linebacker, had been with the team for six seasons and started 18 games with
the Saints since 2011.
The Saints entered the day with the worst salary cap situation in the NFL, being more than $9MM over the projected cap for 2016.
Evans had been set to carry an $8.2MM cap figure this season, the fourth-highest on the team, and was signed through the 2017 campaign. Per NOLA.com’s Katherine Terrell (on Twitter), Evans spoke with Sean Payton in December and was not expecting a release then.
The 32-year-old guard will still carry $5.1MM in dead money, saving the Saints $3.1MM on their 2016 cap sheet. Evans previously took a pay cut to remain with the team last year and made six straight Pro Bowls from 2009-14.
Reports from last April indicated that part of Evans’ 2016 salary was guaranteed, but Nick Underhill of The Advocate says (on Twitter) that guarantee wasn’t set to kick in until the third day of the new league year, which begins March 9.
Evans underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last season, limiting him to a career-low 11 games. The veteran lineman has started 16 games in eight of his 10 seasons and never operated in a reserve capacity since the Saints drafted him in the fourth round in 2006.
Signed through the 2016 season, Hawthorne will carry $2.26MM in dead money and bring $2.25MM in cap savings, according to Over The Cap. Hawthorne, 30, was set to occupy a $4.5MM cap number for the Saints this coming season.
The Saints’ longest-tenured defensive player, Humber served as a key special teams cog for the Saints after the team signed him during the 2010 season.
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