In an effort to bolster their depth at the Safety position, the New Orleans Saints signed Safety Marcus Ball to a three-year contract on Wednesday. The 27 year old has spent his two-year professional career as a member of the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts, and joins former Calgary Stampeders corner Derrius Brooks in New Orleans. Brooks was signed in December of 2013, and both players follow in the footsteps of former defensive lineman Tom Johnson, who spent three seasons with the Saints after a two-year stint in Canada before signing a one year deal with the Minnesota Vikings last month.
Ball, listed at 6-1 209, was a former highly rated prospect out of Stone Mountain, Ga. He signed with Florida State, but was one of several Seminole players to leave the team due to an academic scandal. After a stop at Pearl River Community College in Mississippi, he resurfaced at Memphis, where he concluded his college career with the Tigers. The younger brother of former Georgia Tech Quarterback Reggie Ball, Marcus played a hybrid Safety/Linebacker role for the Argonauts, and has drawn comparisons from scouts to former Saints Safety Roman Harper. Newest Saint: Marcus Ball
Ball will compete for playing time at Safety and should also contribute on special teams. The Saints could use an extra body or two at the position, given the offseason departures of Malcolm Jenkins and Harper. Restricted free agent Rafael Bush has yet to sign his tender leaving newly signed Jairus Byrd and rising second-year pro Kenny Vaccaro as the only two experienced Safeties on the roster. The team remains interested in signing former Broncos star Champ Bailey, who is capable of playing Safety, but the acquisition of Ball is not believed to have an impact on whether or not the Saints can ultimately strike an agreement with the future Hall of famer.
Marcus Ball is a player who can run, read and react, blitz, play both man and zone coverage effectively and operate within the scheme. His ball skills stand out, and he garnered a reputation for producing timely turnovers north of the border, recording four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two touchdown returns during his Toronto career. He also racked up 142 tackles and seven Quarterback sacks. With Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan often looking to get multiple Safeties on the field at once, Ball could earn snaps should he impress coaches over the summer.
Marcus Ball is just the latest move the Saints have made in a busy offseason thus far, with more ins and outs still likely in New Orleans. The team will hope they can get good value and production out of a signing like this, and Ball will certainly have his opportunity to stake his claim for a roster spot and playing time over the course of the next few months.