The New Orleans Saints completed the signing of Center Jonathan Goodwin on Tuesday. An unrestricted free agent, Goodwin had visited the team in April ahead of the 2014 NFL Draft, and agreed to terms with New Orleans yesterday before putting pen to paper on a one-year contract Tuesday morning.
Goodwin, who played for the Saints from 2006-2010, helping the franchise win Super Bowl XLIV along the way, will compete with 2nd year pro Tim Lelito for the vacant starting Center position. The former New York Jet had spent the past three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, where he helped the team reach three NFC title games and one Super Bowl.
A member of Sean Payton's inaugural free agent class in 2006, the Michigan alum is still a capable player at age 35. Per Pro Football Focus, Goodwin has graded out in the top half of the league's starting Centers in each of the last two seasons. He is still an effective run blocker, and his rapport with Drew Brees and fellow linemen such as Jahri Evans and Zach Strief will help bring added stability to the Saints' interior line. In addition, Goodwin is well-versed in Payton's offensive system. Durability has not been a concern for the 12 year veteran, as he has appeared in all 16 games for five seasons running. Tim Lelito currently sits atop the Saints' depth chart at Center.
The Saints will likely give Lelito, a former undrafted free agent, every opportunity to earn the job, though Goodwin presents a quality alternative. New Orleans has a history of not breaking the bank on Centers, rather choosing to pay up to keep the likes of Evans and Strief, who was re-signed earlier this offseason.
Following LeCharles Bentley's departure to Cleveland after the 2005 season, the team brought in Jeff Faine. Faine was able to parlay his successful stint with the Saints into a multi-year deal with the NFC South rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Goodwin then assumed the starting spot, and like Faine, wound up signing a multi-year deal with San Francisco following his time in New Orleans.
After Olin Kreutz's sudden retirement in 2012, the Saints turned to Brian de la Puente, who performed well enough to earn a free agent contract from the Chicago Bears, where he reunites with former Saints' offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. Rather than re-signing de la Puente, the Saints are eager to develop Lelito, while having a reliable option such as Goodwin at the ready in case the former Grand Valley State man can not grasp the position.
Other News And Notes
In addition to the signing of Goodwin, the Saints waived G Mike Golic, Jr. and LB Spencer Hadley.
With an open roster spot, the team signed former Patriots and Jaguars DT Brandon Deaderick to a one-year contract. A former 7th round draft choice of New England in 2010, the Alabama alum spent last season in Jacksonville, where he recorded 9 tackles and a forced fumble. The 26 year old will compete for a spot at defensive tackle. He had worked out for the team earlier in the week.
The Saints returned to the practice field Tuesday for their second wave of OTAs. This session will run through Thursday. A mandatory minicamp will be conducted next week, followed by a third and final round of OTAs to be held from June 16-19.