Statistically speaking, the New Orleans Saints had the worst defense in NFL history last season.

That reality cost defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo his job, but coach Sean Payton would like to retain some of the noted veterans of that depressing unit. Defensive end Will Smith, linebacker Jonathan Vilma and safety Roman Harper are all high-priced talent Payton wants back. He knows that might not be possible, however.

"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 Tuesday on WWL-AM, via The Times-Picayune. "There was a time where you had your draft. What two or three rookies were going to beat out the veterans on a roster?"

The Saints have restructured multiple contracts on their roster in an effort to get below the salary cap. They're still over, meaning more work must be done by the start of a new league year on March 12.