Eager to bolster their depth in the secondary, the New Orleans Saints agreed to terms with veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan on Friday. Finnegan, 32, spent the first six years of his professional career with the Tennessee Titans before stints with St. Louis, Miami, and last season's NFC champion Carolina Panthers.
Keenan Lewis, one of the Saints' top cover men, remains on the road to recovery following two injury-riddled seasons in New Orleans, and recently endured a setback in his recovery from hip and abdominal ailments.Thus, the Saints moved quickly to bring in Finnegan, who featured in subpackages for the Panthers, who reached last season's Super Bowl before falling to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
A former All-Pro, Finnegan, who initially announced his retirement following the 2015 season before joining the Panthers, should see snaps in the Saints' patchwork secondary, especially while Lewis continues to recover. Second-year pro Delvin Breaux currently sits atop the depth chart at corner in New Orleans, though he, too, is said to be battling an undisclosed injury which forced him to sit out the team's preseason opener at New England on Thursday night. Undrafted rookie free agent Ken Crawley started opposite inexperienced second-year man P.J. Williams, who missed all of last season, in Foxboro. Another undrafted rookie free agent, De'Vante Harris, served as the team's nickel corner.
Owner of 18 career interceptions and 5 forced fumbles, Finnegan brings a wealth of experience to the much-maligned New Orleans secondary. Even after Lewis and Breaux return to the field, the veteran will have a legitimate chance to play an important role as the Saints look to put a couple of disappointing, underachieving seasons behind them with their sights set firmly on returning to the playoffs. New Orleans allowed 284 passing yards per game in 2015, bad enough to rank second-worst in the league. With a perenially high-flying offense at his disposal, coach Sean Payton will value Finnegan's vast experience, as well as his noted coverage skills. Finnegan made a key interception in Carolina's Divisional Playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks in January.
Known mostly for his days as a lockdown corner in Tennessee, Finnegan will look to apply his skills to a defense badly in need of playmakers and leadership. The former Samford standout should see extended action through the duration of the team's preseason schedule, with a date against his former nemesis, the Houston Texans, on deck. He has a legitimate chance to stake a claim to nickel duties once Breaux and Lewis are declared healthy.