With end of the NFL calendar year drawing near and subsequently the start of the free agency period looming, the New Orleans Saints could soon find themselves faced with same dilemma as their archrival - the Atlanta Falcons.

In an effort to clear cap space, the Falcons released three key veterans from their roster on Friday morning, cutting ties with running back Michael Turner, defensive end John Abraham and cornerback Dunta Robinson.

The moves free up about $16 million in salary cap space.

The Saints who remain about $5 million over the cap, which reportedly will be $123 million next season, face difficult scenarios with a few of their own key veterans. The free agency period begins March 12.

Defensive end Will Smith, linebacker Jonathan Vilma and -- to a lesser degree -- strong safety Roman Harper are candidates to either have their contracts restructured or all out cut, as the Saints work to free up cap room to improve their roster.

Earlier this week, the Saints restructured contracts of receiver Marques Colston, linebacker David Hawthorne and guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs to create more in salary-cap space. Those moves cut around $10 million off their 2013 salary cap. The Saints also restructured the contract of linebacker Curtis Lofton earlier this month and released tight end David Thomas and cornerback Johnny Patrick.

It's not totally clear if the Saints will move in the direction of the Falcons, however.

They reportedly have offered new, discounted deals to both Smith and Vilma.