Archive for March, 2009



New Orleans Saints agree to deal with free agent tight end Darnell Dinkins

Posted by Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune March 18, 2009 8:53AM

The Saints have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent tight end Darnell Dinkins, according to a league source. Terms were not disclosed.

Dinkins, 32, is a veteran role player who stands out more as a blocker and special teams player than as a receiver. He has 25 receptions for 228 yards and three touchdowns in his six-year career with the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants.

The Saints already have good depth at the tight end position, especially after signing veteran backup Dan Campbell last month. But Dinkins could offer depth and special teams help.



New Orleans Saints add depth, agree to terms with defensive lineman Paul Spicer

The Saints have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent defensive lineman Paul Spicer, team spokesman Greg Bensel confirmed. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Spicer, 33, will give the Saints some valuable depth at both end and tackle, which will come in especially handy if starting ends Will Smith and Charles Grant wind up serving four-game suspensions at the start of the season.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pounder has started 63 games during his 10-year career, spent mostly with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has remained healthy and productive as he’s gotten older, tallying 21.5 sacks and five forced fumbles over the past four years.

He played under new Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams last season in Jacksonville, tallying 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble. But the addition of rookie ends Derrick Harvey and Quentin Groves cut into his playing time.

Spicer had to fight his way into the NFL. He began his career as an undrafted free agent in Seattle but didn’t make the roster. He spent time in the Canadian Football League and one season with the Detroit Lions, mostly on the practice squad, before Jacksonville signed him and allocated him to NFL Europe.

With Spicer in the fold, the Saints could consider releasing one of their veteran tackles – Brian Young, who has battled several health issues over the past year, or Hollis Thomas.



New Orleans Saints are right up against the NFL salary cap

Posted by Brian Allee-Walsh, The Times-Picayune March 10, 2009 3:53PM

As of today, the New Orleans Saints have the third fewest dollars under the salary cap in the NFL, according to league sources.

That figure is $2,206,125 and accounts for 62 players under contract. Fullback Heath Evans’s new two-year contract is not included in the overall amount. Only Carolina ($24,042) and Baltimore ($1,940,557) have less cap room than the Saints.
Tampa Bay has the most room under the cap — $39,816,570 — according to league sources.
In other Saints’ cap-related news:

• The Saints’ 2009 cap number is $140,033,735. That includes the original league-wide $123 million cap, $12,983,735 in league credits and $4.05 million in cap adjustment mechanism (CAM) money. That means the Saints have already allocated $137,827,610 in cap money.

• Recently-signed free agent cornerback Jabari Greer signed a four-year, $22 million contract of which $10 million is guaranteed. His contract calls for annual base salaries of $3 million in 2009 (guaranteed), $3.6 million (guaranteed) in 2010, $4.5 million ($400,000 guaranteed) in 2011 and $5.4 million in 2012, plus a $3 million signing bonus. Other bonuses bring the contract to $22 million. Greer played with the Buffalo Bills last season.

• Wide receiver Devery Henderson re-signed with the Saints for a four-year deal worth $12 million, of which $6 million is guaranteed. His contract calls for annual base salaries of $1.5 million in 2009 (guaranteed), $1.8 million in 2010 ($1 million guaranteed), $2.25 million in 2011 and $2.65 million in 2012, plus a $3.5 million signing bonus.



New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees would love to ‘snatch’ San Diego Chargers tailback LaDainian Tomlinson if he comes free

Posted by Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune March 08, 2009 1:21PM

If it were up to Saints quarterback Drew Brees, he’d love to be reunited with close friend and former teammate LaDainian Tomlinson if the San Diego Chargers cut the former MVP tailback loose.

While discussing Tomlinson’s contract standoff on San Diego radio station XX 1090 AM, Brees said the “best case scenario” would be for Tomlinson to stay in San Diego because of what he’s meant to the team, the fans and the community. But he also admitted, “I’m just waiting for the opportunity if he is available to come and snatch him away.”

When asked if he has discussed that possibility with Tomlinson, Brees said, “I think that’s pretty obvious, don’t you think?”
When the radio hosts jokingly brought up the idea of tampering, Brees backed off and said, “No, it’s just two buddies talkin’ on the phone.”

And obviously Brees was speaking more in fantasy terms than reality terms. We still think the idea of Tomlinson landing in New Orleans is pretty far-fetched, considering their lack of salary-cap space and the depth they already have at the tailback with Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.

But obviously the scenario can’t be ruled out. Brees does have a tremendous amount of pull at Saints headquarters.

I’m planning to talk with Brees this week, so I’ll definitely prod him on the subject – though I expect him to be much more guarded the next time around.

Before the LT-to-New Orleans idea was brought up, Brees said he doesn’t think Tomlinson should be willing to accept a pay cut from the Chargers, “because look at his track record.”

“Many people could say, ‘Oh he had a decline this year,’ but I disagree with that,” Brees said. “He was banged up for the majority of the year, and I think that’s just part of the game at times. I mean the guy has missed one start his entire NFL career, so if you’re going to sit here and tell me he’s not a durable guy, then you’re crazy.

“I think he’s still got a lot of motivation. I think he’s got a lot of fight and fire left in him. And you know he can still be a very productive player. So I don’t see any reason why he should be taking a pay cut at this point.”



New Orleans Saints sign fullback Heath Evans, release fullback Mike Karney

Posted by Mike Triplett, The Times-Picayune March 05, 2009 4:51PM

The Saints have released fullback Mike Karney and signed Heath Evans.

The Saints just confirmed that they have agreed to a deal with free agent fullback Heath Evans and will release fullback Mike Karney.

I just spoke to Karney about the decision, which won’t be officially announced until tomorrow.

Obviously he said it’s sad to leave New Orleans after spending his entire five-year career here. But he said he also looks at this as a “new beginning” for him, and he said he appreciates that the Saints let him enter the free agent market sooner than later.
“My first reaction is that the writing’s been on the wall (since the Saints started looking at other fullbacks in free agency),” said Karney, who ironically also happens to be getting married tomorrow in California. “So I wasn’t surprised or caught off guard. And I respect the decision that Sean (Payton) and Mickey (Loomis) made collectively. I have no hard feelings, and I’m happy that they didn’t string it out.”

Karney, 27, has plenty of friends and family around for support right now – including former Saints backfield mates Deuce McAllister and Aaron Stecker, both of whom are free agents themselves right now, and former Saints fullback Lorenzo Neal, who has played for seven different teams in his 16-year career.

“I have great memories of being a New Orleans Saint,” Karney said. “I had some great games. I felt I stood tall through the victories and the losses and I was part of taking an organization to the NFC Championship Game, which had never been done in the history of the organization, and I met a lot of great people, established a lot of great relationships. The fans have been outstanding. Their support for me has been out of this world. It’s sad in that respect, but it’s time to move on, it’s time for a new life.

“Now it’s a new ballgame, and we’ll see who’s interested.”

The Saints obviously decided to go for a more versatile, athletic fullback in Evans, who has served as a backup tailback, backup tight end and special teams specialist, in addition to traditional fullback duties in his eight-year career with the Patriots, Dolphins and Seahawks.

During a stretch as a replacement tailback in 2005, he ran for 74 yards on 16 carries against the Saints and caught two passes for 21 yards in New England’s 24-17 victory.

The 6-foot, 250-pounder has remained durable, too, appearing in every game with the Patriots over the past three years.

Terms of Evans’ deal were not disclosed, but financially it’s probably close to a wash for the Saints. Karney had two years remaining on his contract with the Saints at a little more than $1 million per year in salary and bonuses.

“Heath is a tireless worker and someone we were very impressed with after spending time with him,” Saints Coach Sean Payton said in a statement. “He’s very excited about the various things we do from an offensive perspective and is a well-rounded and versatile player. In addition he has played quite a bit on various special teams units throughout his career and been a reliable and dependable player in many different situations.”

“Heath is a versatile and fundamentally sound fullback who can help our offense in a variety of roles, whether it be as a lead blocker, as a runner or receiving option out of the backfield as well as on special teams,” Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said in the statement. “He has played in a few different offensive systems and has adapted quickly and been a contributor to all of them.”

Neither Payton nor Loomis addressed Karney’s release since it has not been made official yet.

Karney, a fifth-round draft pick out of Arizona State in 2004, is a traditional power-blocking fullback, though he did score seven touchdowns in his career – including his unforgettable three-touchdown performance in a 42-17 victory at Dallas in 2006. He was named a second-team All Pro that year.



New Orleans Saints sign cornerback Jabari Greer, re-sign receiver Devery Henderson

Posted by Brian Allee-Walsh, The Times-Picayune March 04, 2009 10:20PM

Jabari Greer

Saints officials hit two free agency goals Wednesday, returning one offensive player to the fold and filling a glaring need in the secondary.

Around mid-day, the team re-signed veteran wide receiver Devery Henderson and a few hours later signed Bills cornerback Jabari Greer.

Each agreed to four-year deals.

Henderson is the third high-profile player to re-sign with the Saints since the start of free agency on Friday, joining middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and right tackle Jon Stinchcomb.

General Manager Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton are continuing their push to upgrade the secondary with free agents from outside the organization, most notably safeties Darren Sharper (Minnesota) and Gerald Sensabaugh (Jacksonville), both of whom visited earlier this week.

Fullback Heath Evans (New England) concluded his two-day visit with Saints officials Wednesday.

“There are two phases to this free agency,” Payton said. “This initial phase is quieter than it has been in past years. The second phase is where all of a sudden some of your better bargains can become available. It’d be hard to say that once we sign a defensive player or two we’re going to be done, because you don’t know what becomes available a month from now.

“But I’m excited that we were able to keep the guys that we’ve signed right now. Vilma was critical for us with how he played last year, after giving us stability at the mike linebacker position, and getting Stinchcomb and Devery was important. So I’m excited about us being able to protect those three players internally. Now we’ll try to get a few more pieces that we’ve identified, most likely on defense. That’s kind of where we’re at in the process.”

Greer’s contract reportedly is worth approximately $23 million (an average of $5.75 annually), according to The National Football Post. Those numbers suggest Greer, 5 feet 11, 180 pounds, likely will be a favorite to win a starting job.

He comes to the Saints after starting 23 games the past two seasons as an undrafted free agent with the Bills. He has four career interceptions, including two last season, that he returned for touchdowns. He missed the final six games in 2008 with a knee injury.

“I’ve been traveling non-stop since Friday,” said Greer, who also visited Detroit, Tampa Bay and Cleveland. “Everything has worked out wonderfully. I am elated and excited about this opportunity.

“After talking to the players (specifically defensive backs Mike McKenzie, Tracy Porter, Roman Harper) and getting their point of views on the team, the coaching staff and the executives upstairs, they had nothing but great things to say. They really believe in this program.”

Greer, 27, said he is familiar with the type of defense new Saints coordinator Gregg Williams plans to install in New Orleans. Greer spent his first three seasons at Buffalo working under defensive coordinator Jerry Gray, who has a long history coaching with Williams.

“Coach Williams has a (defensive) system that I am familiar with,” Greer said. “It’s a lot of the same terminology and schemes that I feel comfortable with. I know he’s a coach that expects a lot out of his players. Having that challenge is exciting to me.”

The Saints’ newest signings have one thing in common: each is extremely fast. Greer, 27, was a standout hurdler at Tennessee, winning the 2003 NCAA Indoor 60-meters championship.

Henderson, who enjoyed his best season as a pro in 2008, already is one of the fastest players on the team.

Last season, Henderson averaged career highs in yards per catch (24.8) and yards after the catch (8.5).

“Devery is a guy who has gotten better and better each year,” Payton said. “He’s progressed and has been a big part of what we do offensively. His speed and his yards per completion are things we don’t take for granted. He runs exceptionally well, especially after the catch. We’re not talking about just big completions, but he’s a guy who can catch a shorter throw and advance it.”

Payton said the team’s decision to give Henderson a long-term deal shows the confidence they have in him.

“A year ago, to Devery’s credit and to Mickey’s credit, we just signed a one-year contract just to further see where both sides were,” Payton said. “So when he became free this year, there were other teams interested in him. There’s a comfort level he has in what we’re doing and having a quarterback here in Drew Brees and having the system intact, he felt really good about it.”

Henderson said he is relieved to have the business aspect behind him so he can concentrate on trying to fulfill his potential with the team that selected him in the second round of the 2004 draft.

“It was important for me to be back here,” said Henderson, who had interest from Minnesota, Tennessee, Tampa Bay and San Francisco. “It’s the only (NFL) team I’ve ever known. It’s good to know that I’m still wanted here. They wanted me back, and it was important to them to have me back.

“I think I can do a whole lot more than I’ve shown. I want to show everyone around here that I can do it.”

Specific details of Henderson’s contract are not known. However, Payton said no roster moves or restructuring of players’ contracts had to be done to accommodate the latest signings under the $27 million salary cap.

In other free agent developments, Payton denied reports that the Saints are interested in running back Rudi Johnson and no visit has been scheduled for cornerback Shawn Springs, who visited Philadelphia Tuesday and Wednesday.



New Orleans Saints sign cornerback Jabari Greer

Posted by Brian Allee-Walsh, The Times-Picayune March 04, 2009 3:59PM

Categories: Saints

Jabari Greer

update 6:15 p.m. The New Orleans Saints hit one of their free agency goals today with the signing of cornerback Jabari Greer, according to league sources. It is a four-year deal.Greer, 5 feet 11, 180 pounds, comes to the Saints after starting 23 games the past two seasons as an undrafted free agent with the Buffalo Bills.
Greer, 27, has four career interceptions, including two last season that he returned for touchdowns. He missed the final six games of last season with a knee injury. The Saints beat out Cleveland, Tampa Bay and Detroit for Greer.

He was a standout hurdler at the University of Tennessee, winning the 2003 NCAA championship in the 60 meter indoors.

Saints officials remain interested in trying to sign a free safety in free agency, either Darren Sharper or Gerald Sensabaugh, both of whom visited with Saints officials earlier this week.

Earlier today, team officials announced the re-signing of veteran wide Devery Henderson to a four-year contract.

In other developments, Coach Sean Payton denied reports that the Saints are interested in running back Rudi Johnson and no visit has been scheduled for cornerback Shawn Springs, who is meeting today with Philadelphia Eagles officials.



Stinchcomb Agrees to 5-Year Contract

Saturday, February 28, 2009 – 11:15 AM

The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms with T Jon Stinchcomb on a five-year contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. A model of consistency, Stinchcomb started all 16 games in 2008 at right tackle and has held down that position, starting the last 48 regular season games.

“Jon has been a real good player for us since cracking the starting lineup in 2006,” said Loomis. “He has become a respected leader on our team, not only on the field but off the field as well.”

Stinchcomb was selected by the Saints 37th overall in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft, and re-signed to a two-year contract prior to the 2007 season. He has been an anchor on the offensive line for one of the league’s top-ranked offenses, with the line having allowed just 29 sacks in 1,287 pass attempts over the past two seasons, an average of fewer than one per game. Over his career, the former Georgia Bulldog has played in 58 regular season contests, with 48 starts, and has also started two postseason games.

“Jon is a smart and dedicated player. He excels in the meeting room, in the weight room and on the field and we are pleased to have him back,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “He is a player you can count on. This signing will ensure that the foundation we have created with our offensive line stays in place.”

Stinchcomb has also been known as one of the NFL’s most community-minded players during his tenure in the league. In 2008, Stinchcomb was voted by his teammates as the Saints’ Walter Payton Man of the Year. He and his fellow linemen started a community program called “OL 4 NO”, which runs a free football camp for the youth of New Orleans and in 2008 purchased and distributed 225 bicycles to underprivileged children.



Saints Agree to Terms with MLB Jonathan Vilma on Long Term Deal

Friday, February 27, 2009 – 4:48 PM
The New Orleans Saints have agreed to terms with LB Jonathan Vilma on a five-year contract, it was announced today by Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis. Vilma led the Saints with 151 tackles and three forced fumbles in 2008 and added a pair of fumble recoveries, a sack and an interception.

“We made re-signing Jonathan our top priority, and this is an important first step as we prepare for the 2009 season,” said Loomis. “Jonathan proved he could come back from his injury and play at a high level and we expect the same or better from him starting this season.”

Vilma was acquired by New Orleans in a trade with the New York Jets in February of 2008. Last season he led or shared the team lead in stops in 10 contests – recording double-digit tackle totals in eight games – and turned in a handful of memorable performances. Vilma had a 17-tackle day at Washington, where he also deflected a pair of passes. At Tampa Bay, he posted seven stops, a career-high two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a sack.

“Jonathan is a true impact player on defense and one of our leaders,” said Head Coach Sean Payton. “He is consistent, he never comes off the field, and we rely on him to make plays. He proved to be everything we expected when we made the trade for him last year, and having him agree to terms today is a key factor heading into this season.”

The 2004 Defensive Rookie of the Year with the Jets after being selected 12th overall out of the University of Miami, Vilma was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2005 when he led the league with 187 tackles. Over his career, he has notched 611 stops (412 solo), 3.5 sacks, seven interceptions, eight forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.

Entering his sixth season, Vilma has started 69 of 71 contests in his career, including all 16 last year for the Saints.

He has also been known as one of the NFL’s most community-minded players during his tenure in the league. Vilma served as a spokesman for the NFL’s Lend A Hand campaign, was a board member of the National Football Foundation’s “Play It Smart” Program and has given numerous talks in schools about success on the field and in the classroom.

NOTES: The team also announced the free agent visit of CB Ronald Bartell. THE 6-1, 209-pound CB recently completed his fourth seasons with the St. Louis Rams. Bartell has appeared in 58 regular season games (36 starts) and registered 183 tackles, eight interceptions for 102 yards and two sacks. In 2008 he started all 16 games for the Rams and recorded 57 tackles and tied his career-high in interceptions (three), as well as making one sack. Over the course of his young career, Bartell has recorded 35 passes defensed, including a career-high 19 in 2008.