New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton said he does envision defensive end Will Smith, linebacker Jonathan Vilma and safety Roman Harper on the Saints roster next year in an interview on WWL-AM on Tuesday night. Payton quickly added a disclaimer, though.

"First off, I do envision those guys in a Saints uniform, and yet I'm also realistic and understand that every year since the beginning of free agency the percentage of players on your roster that turns over is different than it used to be," Payton said. "There was a time where you had your draft. What two or three rookies were going to beat out the veterans on a roster?

"It's different now. There's an economic factor to it. It's as simple as a household budget. If you're going to have cable and you're going to have heat, you might not be able to have something else. So you've really got to look closely at your production, you've got to look closely at your cap."

The Saints are still slightly over the salary cap despite restructuring contracts of Marques Colston, Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, David Hawthorne, Curtis Lofton and Brodrick Bunkley this offseason. Smith ($14.5 million salary cap figure for 2013), Vilma ($8.6 million) and Harper ($7.1 million) are all targets for restructuring their contracts or becoming salary cap casualties by the time the league year starts March 12.

Payton was also asked about handling skeptics, fans and media concerning the hiring of defensive coordinator Rob Ryan because he may be similar to Gregg Williams: "It's great to have an opinion. We think, and I'm certain of it, that we have the best football fans in the world. The interest level in our program and our team, not just the season, but with the offseason and the combine coming up leading up to the draft, that's just the excitement and they're passionate. But what's most important is making choices and decisions that aren't based on popularity.