Saints look to flip Darren Sproles

The New Orleans Saints have not released running back Darren Sproles and now plan to trade him due to interest in him, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Reports surfaced last week the Saints planned to release Sproles if they were unable to find a trade partner. But, with all the interest, the team has held on to him and now would like to capitalize on that interest, according to the source.

Sproles, 30, only has one year remaining on his contract and is due $3.5 million in salary and bonuses. That should be palatable for any team pursuing him in a trade.

The Saints didn't have to cut Sproles before the start of the new league year on Tuesday because they are already an estimated $2.6 million under the salary cap.

However, they'll want to make a move with Sproles soon to be able to afford new players. The Saints reached agreement with former Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd on a six-year deal Tuesday night.

Sproles has been one of the Saints' most dynamic offensive weapons over the past three years since they signed him as a free agent from the San Diego Chargers.

He set the NFL record for all-purpose yards in a season with 2,696 in 2011, when he first joined the Saints as a free agent from the San Diego Chargers. And during his three years in New Orleans, he has amassed 1,067 rushing yards, 1,981 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns.

However, Sproles played in only about 33 percent of the Saints' offensive snaps during the 15 games in which he was active last year. And his numbers in 2013 (220 rushing yards, 71 receptions for 604 yards, four total touchdowns) were slightly down from past years.

The Saints have been cutting ties with several veterans this offseason, both to shed salary-cap space and invest in younger players. They also released receiver Lance Moore, defensive end Will Smith, linebacker Jonathan Vilma, safety Roman Harper and cornerback Jabari Greer.

As Schefter first reported last week, the Saints shopped Sproles, Moore and running back Pierre Thomas around the league to see if there would be any trade interest before releasing them. And as of now, Thomas remains on the Saints' roster, so it's possible they were just looking to move one of them.

The Saints are overstocked with talent at the running back position, since they're also high on younger, cheaper running backs Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson.