Another day, another move. The New Orleans Saints continued to pound the pavement in free agency, agreeing to terms on a four-year contract with Fullback Erik Lorig, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Lorig will replace Jed Collins, who became an unrestricted free agent after the Saints opted not to tender him.
On the surface, Lorig is a similar player to Collins. Both players are known for their ability to catch passes out of the backfield in the I-formation while serving as solid lead blockers. Neither player is considered an elite blocker or runner by any means, but the Saints may view Lorig as a better all-around option. The team plans on making a commitment to running a more balanced attack with an emphasis on the run game moving forward, and Lorig is a simple plug and play to the Fullback spot.
Erik Lorig in action last season.
Lorig caught 11 passes for 47 yards in 2013 for the division rival Bucs, and has never attempted a rush in his four year career. The 6'4 250 Stanford alum, who played Defensive End in college, was chosen in the 7th round of the 2010 NFL Draft by Tampa and converted to Fullback shortly thereafter. He also moonlighted as a short yardage package Tight End earlier in his pro career before settling permanently at Fullback. The Saints likely view this versatility and his ability to contribute on special teams as assets and a slight upgrade over the plodding Collins. Collins was a good player for New Orleans and in all likelihood will land a job elsewhere due to his experience and ability to contribute as a pass-catcher.
Lorig helped pave the way for Doug Martin during the former Boise State Bronco's impressive rookie campaign in 2012. He also assisted the likes of LeGarrette Blount, Bobby Rainey, and Brian Leonard in the run game for Tampa during his tenure as a Buccaneer. Tampa was said to be interested in retaining his services, but he will instead be suiting up for their NFC South rivals.
The Saints have done a good job of addressing needs, plugging holes and finding ways to improve their roster thus far in free agency. Fullbacks may not be the flashiest position in Football, and some may venture to say that the position is becoming extinct. But Sean Payton's plan to tweak his offense to put more of an emphasis on running the ball and controlling time of possession will certainly require a lead blocker. The Saints hope Erik Lorig can be that guy.