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News » Saints miss out on free-agent cornerback

Saints miss out on free-agent cornerback

Saints miss out on free-agent cornerback
The Saints lost out on free-agent cornerback Ron Bartell when he elected to re-sign with the St. Louis Rams on Monday, but they still are considering several options to fortify their secondary.

Veteran safety Darren Sharper arrived in New Orleans for a visit Monday afternoon, according to a league source, which followed safety Gerald Sensabaugh's visit over the weekend. And veteran cornerback Shawn Springs is expected to visit today, according to a report from the National Football Post.

If the report on Springs is accurate, it should come as little surprise. The 12-year veteran has close ties to Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis, who helped draft him in Seattle, and new Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who coached him in Washington.

Bartell, 27, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that his top choice was always to stay in St. Louis. But a league source indicated that the Saints had made a strong push to get him, bringing him to New Orleans for a visit and offering a long-term contract in the same financial ballpark as the Rams' offer.

According to the Post-Dispatch, the deal is for four years, with a maximum value of $28 million and $13.6 million guaranteed. Bartell and his agent, Jeff Griffin, told the Post-Dispatch that the decision didn't come down to money because the offers were so close.

"It was a lot of pressure, and it took a little longer than I hoped," Bartell told the paper. "But I made no bones about it. I wanted to stay in St. Louis."

The Saints are evaluating young up-and-coming players and proven veterans as they attempt to enhance their embattled secondary. Sensabaugh, 25, is a lot like Bartell -- a four-year veteran who is coming off of his best season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Springs and Sharper, both 33, are former Pro Bowl selections who would bring instant leadership and savvy to a young Saints secondary.

A league source indicated that the mutual interest between Sharper and the Saints is strong. But he reportedly is considering a visit to the Chicago Bears if the Saints don't sign him while he's in town.

Sharper (6 feet 2, 210 pounds) has appeared in every game with the Minnesota Vikings since 2006, and he has missed only nine games in his 12-year career with Minnesota and Green Bay. He has 54 interceptions and nine forced fumbles in his career.

Springs (6 feet, 207), who has played the past five seasons with Washington, has 32 interceptions and five forced fumbles in his career since being drafted with the third overall pick out of Ohio State in 1997 by Seattle.

Springs also reportedly is scheduled to meet with the Patriots this week.

No other free-agent visits have been confirmed. A league source denied a report out of Seattle that fullback Leonard Weaver was scheduled to visit New Orleans, but the Saints have at least made inquiries about him.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 3, 2009

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