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News » New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-03-06

New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-03-06

New Orleans Saints Inside Slant 2009-03-06
As usual, the Saints didn't make a big splash in the free agency market once it opened last week, but they still made some strides in shaping their 2009 team.

While team officials don't publicly comment about their plans, it's obvious now that they first wanted to take care of their own as they did in 2008.

They accomplished that by re-upping the three starters everyone figured they would try to re-sign early on -- middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma, right tackle Jon Stinchcomb and wide receiver Devery Henderson.

Vilma and Stinchcomb agreed to new five-year deals on the first full day of the signing period and Henderson, who signed a one-year contract last winter, was rewarded this time with a four-year deal.

In addition to getting Vilma back after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers showed some interest in the team's leading tackler last season, the Saints made a move Wednesday to shore up their secondary by getting Buffalo Bills cornerback Jabari Greer to sign a four-year contract as well.

While they wanted to hang onto Stinchcomb and Henderson because they were part of the NFL's most productive offense in 2006 and again in 2008, the Saints simply had to get Vilma back in the fold.

And it was obvious cornerback was on the radar as well for a team that ranked 30th against the pass in 2007 and 23rd a year ago -- which is why they went after St. Louis Rams cornerback Ron Bartell before he re-signed with the Rams and went instead with Greer -- and up-and-coming player who has started 23 games the last two years.

The team is also looking hard for a free safety, with Minnesota's Darren Sharper and Jacksonville's Gerald Sensabaugh visiting the team early last week.

"I'm excited that we were able to keep the guys we've signed right now," Saints coach Sean Payton said Wednesday. "Vilma was critical for us with how he played last year, after giving us some 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."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 6, 2009

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Ernest Wilford Name: Ernest Wilford
Position: WR
Age: 29
Experience: 5 years
College: Virginia Tech
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