The New Orleans Saints will hit the practice fields tomorrow for the second of three slates of organized team activities. The team wrapped up its first three-day session last week, and have one more set scheduled for June 16-19. In between, a three-day mandatory minicamp will be held on June 10-12. This upcoming set of workouts will conclude on Thursday, June 5. As the Saints get back to work, here is the latest buzz out of the Crescent City...
Saints Agree To Deal With C Jonathan Goodwin
After several weeks of speculation, the Saints have agreed to terms with free agent Center Jonathan Goodwin. Goodwin, who played in New Orleans from 2006-2010 and helped the team win Super Bowl XLIV along the way, had spent the last three years with the San Francisco 49ers. The Michigan alum graded out in the top-half of the league's starting Centers last season per Pro Football Focus. Goodwin had visited with the Saints earlier in the spring, and it was always likely that the team would wait until after June 1st to make a concrete decision on whether or not to re-sign their former player. Jonathan Goodwin spent 5 seasons with the Saints from 2006-2010, winning a Super Bowl.
We had speculated as recently as yesterday that signing Goodwin was still in play for the saints, though it would not have been a surprise to see the organization take a wait-and-see approach. Nevertheless, the Saints were proactive, choosing to bring Goodwin in now, rather than risk losing him to another team who may have felt the need to add a veteran presence along the interior. Goodwin will compete for the starting Center spot with Tim Lelito. Goodwin's experience in Sean Payton's offense and his past working rapport with Drew Brees, Jahri Evans and Zach Strief should help his chances, though the team will likely give the younger Lelito every opportunity to prove his salt over the course of the summer.
Details of the agreement are not yet available, but it is thought that the 35-year old was open to accepting a short-term deal near the veteran's minimum.
Training Camp Dates Set
The Saints officially announced their plans for training camp this summer. Camp will open on July 24, as players report to the team's initial base in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The team will be based at The Greenbrier, a resort located in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.
The team will return to New Orleans in mid-August, ahead of their preseason home opener against the Tennessee Titans, which will be held on August 15. From there on out, the Saints will conclude their preseason preparations at their facility in Metairie, with an additional workout scheduled for August 20 at nearby Mandeville High School.
In total, the Saints will conduct 27 practices, most of which will be open to the public, weather permitting.
Vilma Still Available
Former Saints Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who captained the defense en-route to the club's Super Bowl XLIV triumph, is still on the open market following his February release from New Orleans.
Vilma and his camp recently reached out to the Miami Dolphins, but their interest was not reciprocated. He was also recently linked with the Dallas Cowboys, who have a need for an experienced Mike Linebacker in the aftermath of Sean Lee's season-ending knee injury. Jonathan Vilma is looking for a new team.
Injuries and a shift to a base 3-4 defense under Rob Ryan ultimately led to Vilma's departure from the Saints. In fact, the New York Jets' switch to the 3-4 under Eric Mangini was what helped expedite Vilma's trade to New Orleans during the 2008 offseason. Vilma, 32, is a much more natural fit for a 4-3 alignment, where he can seek out the ball rather than absorb blocks from interior linemen. The three-time Pro Bowler intends to extend his career, though he will likely have to remain patient until the right opportunity appears.
Check back later this week for more news and updates as the Saints embark on their second of three OTA sessions.