In search of experience and competition at the Center position, the New Orleans Saints turned to a familiar face Wednesday, bringing in Jonathan Goodwin for a visit. Goodwin, 35, had a successful 5 year stint with the Saints from 2006-2010, including the 2009 season where he helped the team earn it's first Super Bowl title.
The 6-3 318 lb. Michigan product spent the first three seasons of his pro career with the New York Jets before signing with the Saints as a part of Sean Payton's inaugural free agent class. After spending his first two seasons backing up Jeff Faine and providing depth at the Guard positions, Goodwin became the starting Center after Faine signed a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. He was named as a reserve for the 2010 Pro Bowl following a solid 2009 campaign as the team paved its way towards a Lombardi trophy. Jonathan Goodwin spent 5 seasons with the Saints from 2006-2010.
Following the 2010 season, Goodwin signed with the San Francisco 49ers. He did not miss a game during his 3 years in the Bay area, and helped the team reach three NFC title games and a Super Bowl, but was not offered a new contract following the 2013 season.
The Saints have been linked with Goodwin throughout the offseason, and that link intensified following former Center Brian de la Puente's move to Chicago 2 weeks ago. The Saints are high on 2nd year pro Tim Lelito and could look to the draft to add another young player at the position, but bringing in a veteran like Goodwin, who knows the system and the lay of the land would also make sense. It is likely that Goodwin would come on the cheap, at or near the veteran minimum.
Goodwin was said to be pondering retirement in the aftermath of the niners' loss to Seattle in the NFC Championship game, but now intends to carry on playing. A reunion with the Saints would make sense, as he would be surrounded by two Pro Bowl Guards in Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs, while also reuniting with Zach Strief.
Goodwin may be in the twilight of his career, but is still an impactful player at a very important position. He is more than familiar with Sean Payton's system, and is still an effective run blocker. With New Orleans expected to put more of a focus on its running game, Goodwin's expertise and skill in that regard would be more than valuable.
Jonathan Goodwin won't be guaranteed the starting Center job, but will provide more than adequate competition and a mentor for Lelito, while also adding depth and experience at the Guard spots. If the Saints choose not to add another Center in the draft, a potential Goodwin signing would allow them to focus another pick on taking the best available player on their draft board.
Likewise, it would also give Drew Brees a familiar rear end to place his hands under as the Saints aim for more success in 2014.