Jonathan Vilma ends turbulent season with his best game

New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma didn't even let someone finish the question when he was asked Sunday if he couldn't wait for next season after the chaotic 2012 season he endured saying, "God, yes. Yes, very much so."

You would be hard pressed to blame him.

Twice Vilma faced season-long suspensions for his involvement in the alleged Saints bounty program, including accusations of placing $10,000 bounties on Kurt Warner and Brett Favre during the 2009 playoffs. And twice the suspensions were vacated as Vilma played in all 11 games he was eligible to play in after beginning the season on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury.

Maybe more important, Vilma never missed a paycheck and would have missed out on a year's pay had the NFL's original punishments stood in place.

Vilma wrapped up his season by leading the Saints with eight total tackles in the Saints' 44-38 loss to Carolina on Sunday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. His 18-yard interception return for a score off Cam Newton gave the Saints a 14-10 lead in the second quarter. It was the second pick-six of Vilma's career.

Vilma admitted after Sunday's game how much of a toll it took on him to endure the bounty scandal since the league first announced its findings in March.

"It's draining, but it's not an excuse," Vilma said. "You've got a job to do on Sundays. You have to prepare during the week, speaking about myself. That's not an excuse. Yeah, it was draining. You fly right after a game just to go up to D.C. and sit there for hours in hearings and things like that. As far as the rest of the defense, I would hope that it didn't affect the guys. I really tried to make it a point not to make it their issue. It's my issue, mine and Will's. I really hope it didn't affect them on Sundays."

Vilma seemed more upset with the way the defense played against Carolina allowing 44 points and 530 yards of total offense in the loss.

"It was very disappointing to lose the way we lost today," Vilma said. "I'm disappointed in my team the way we lost composure at the end. ... That starts with the leadership. That starts with the captains. I should have found a way to get my team under control. Unfortunately, it cost us. It cost us big. ... Some games we'll play lights out. Other games, we gave up 44 points and Lord knows how many yards."

Vilma was blunt when asked about the 2012 Saints defense setting the mark for the most yards allowed in a single season. "You get what get what you deserve," he said. "When you don't play good defense, that's what happens. Be a man and suck it up."

Age, health and his hefty salary cap figure may play a role into whether the Saints keep Vilma on the roster. Vilma has dealt with a lingering knee injury the past few seasons which is why he started the season on the PUP list. His salary cap figure for 2013 is also around $8.6 million, which could make him a cap casualty if he doesn't take a paycut.

"It's going to be whatever Mickey (Loomis) and Sean (Payton), what they decide," Vilma said about his future with the Saints. "That's management stuff. I don't get into that. I don't look at that. My job is to perform on Sundays. Hopefully I did a good enough job. Hopefully I will be here next year. If not, hopefully I will be somewhere. I don't know how it's going to work out."

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