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Morten Andersen not selected for hall of fame

PHOENIX — The NFL’s all-time leading scorer still has to buy his own tickets for Canton.

In his third year of eligibility, former New Orleans Saints kicker Morten Andersen once again did not receive enough votes for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Wide receiver Tim Brown, linebacker Junior Seau, running back Jerome Bettis, defensive end Charles Haley, and guard Will Shields were selected for enshrinement.

Seniors nominee Mick Tingelhoff and contributors Bills Polian and Ron Wolf were also selected for the Hall of Fame.

Like last year, Andersen was among the 15 finalists up for the award, but he was among the first cuts and failed to make the top 10 this year. He was a semifinalist during his first year of eligibility.

A 25-year veteran, Andersen played for the Saints from 1982-1994. He then had stops with Atlanta, Kansas City, Minnesota, and the New York Giants. He retired in 2007, at the age of 47.

Not only does Andersen lead the NFL in scoring (2,544 point), he also has the most field goals (565) in NFL history. Throughout his career, he mad 79.6 percent of his field goals, placing him 46th all time.

Andersen made seven Pro Bowls and three times was a first-team All Pro. He was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fames’ all-decade teams for the 1980s and 1990s.

It’s not an easy task for kickers to gain induction. The last true kicker to get in, Jan Stenerud, who was inducted in 1991, remains the only true kicker in the hall of fame.

Stenerud, who played from 1967-1985, made 66.8 percent of his kicks throughout his career and is 13th on the scoring list with 1,699 points. He was, however, one of the first professional football players to be used as a dedicated kicker.

After testing shoulder at Pro Bowl, Jimmy Graham says he will avoid surgery

PHOENIX — For most, it’s difficult to find meaning in the Pro Bowl. But that’s not the case for Saints fans this year.

New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham used last week’s exhibition as a barometer for whether or not he would need surgery to repair a nagging shoulder injury. He has determined an operation is not needed.

“I’ve been doing rehab and I’m going to start back on my rehab Monday and really there’s going to be no surgery,” Graham told SiriusXM radio. “I’m just going to do rehab, strengthen the area. That’s what’s best — not having to take six months off and try to heal up with a surgery, but now have those six months to work on all things I need to to try and hopefully get to a place like (the Super Bowl) next year.”

Graham initially injured his shoulder during a Week 5 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Coming out of a Week 6 bye, Graham was limited to 30 snaps in the next game against the Detroit Lions.

Graham rebounded after the injury, but faded down the stretch, catching 20 passes for 219 yards over the final five games.

While he hinted that his shoulder was an issue during an early December interview with The Advocate, Graham admitted Friday that it was a bigger issue than he initially let on.

“It was something that really needed some rest and unfortunately it wasn’t able to get that during the season,” he said. “It happened early and then you have about 10 straight weeks of trying to make it to the game. Now after having about three or four weeks and last week kind of testing it at the Pro Bowl, it feels great.”

Drew Brees attributes some of the Saints’ struggles to roster turnover, lack of veterans

PHOENIX — These Saints, the ones who won seven games and missed the playoffs, weren’t the same Saints that used to dominate teams at the Superdome and once won a Super Bowl.

Those teams had veteran leadership and set of values they could fall back on.  These Saints lacked those values. The old guys and the young guys never quite connected as they should have and there was a disconnect in the locker room.

“Whenever you have this turnover like we had last year with six or seven really veteran players, guys that had been around a long time and knew the way, and all of the sudden they’re gone and you have this influx of a bunch of young players who don’t know that, there’s not as many veteran guys to teach those young guys,” Brees told The Advocate.

“Therefore there’s a little bit of a disconnect from this season that you could attribute to why we weren’t as successful as we should have been.”

In previous seasons, when the roster was stocked with players who were once considered fixtures, such as Jonathan Vilma, Jabari Greer, and company, New Orleans had a solid foundation. Right now, with a new cast of characters, the team is working to establish a new foundation.

“It’s important on every team — you have a foundation. You have a foundation that feels like no matter what happens you’re able to weather any story, you’re able to fall through adversity — there’s just a way that you do things that you can always fall back on,” Brees said. “But that takes years and years to develop and cultivate.”

Brees was also asked if he would be receptive if approached by the Saints to lower his cap figure, which resides at $18.75 million for next season. But the quarterback was unwilling to get into the topic.

“I’m not going to answer that,” he said.

The Saints are estimated to be around $20 million over the expected salary cap for next season.

Roger Goodell calls Saints ownership dispute unfortunate

PHOENIX — Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, was asked at his Super Bowl news conference about the ownership dispute taking place in New Orleans over Tom Benson announcing his intentions to leave the Saints and Pelicans to his wife, Gayle, and not granddaughter Rita LeBlanc.

His answer was as follows:

“I spoke to Tom Benson just the other day. He was going into the office, as usual. He was in complete control, energetic, excited about getting to the office, asking about league issues. As you know, he’s been one of our more active owners in the league on various committees. They obviously have a dispute going on, which is always unfortunate.  In this case, it deals with succession as opposed to the current management. Tom Benson is a man of great integrity and man that is enthusiastic about the NFL, the Saints, New Orleans. He’s demonstrated to me that he’s got complete control over what he’s doing to make sure that organization goes in the right direction.”

CB Byron Maxwell on upcoming free agency: ‘I’m the prettiest girl at the dance’

PHOENIX — It’s flattering to know that people want you, whether you’re seeking a job or have multiple suitors in the dating world. It’s a good feeling.

And right now, Seattle Seahawks cornerback is looking forward to the prospect of having multiple teams bidding for his services this offseason.

“I’m the prettiest girl at the dance right now,” Maxwell said. “But yeah, it’s one of those things I’m excited about. I would love to be here, but how things work out, as far as I’m ready to see what’s out there.”

One of the teams that could take a look at Maxwell is the Saints. Despite adding CFL Delvin Breaux to the mix, the team is still shallow at the position and will likely take a hard look at Maxwell.

The 6-foot-1 corner finished the season with two interceptions and 38 tackles over 13 games. After drafting the 6-foot-3 Stanley Jean-Baptiste last year, it’s not a stretch to think the Saints would covet Maxwell’s size.

One potential hang up, however, is how much money gets thrown at the “prettiest girl at the dance.” If his price skyrockets, it could be hard for the Saints to fit him in under the cap.

But to be fair, no one thought New Orleans could afford safety Jairus Byrd last offseason and the team figured out a way to make it work.

Kenny Stills is confident the Saints will turn things around this offseason

PHOENIX — Kenny Stills isn’t worried about the future.

The Saints might have finished a disappointing 7-9, and instead of playing in the game his team thought it would be playing in at the end of the season, Stills was doing publicity hits at the Super Bowl on Thursday afternoon.

“I don’t think there’s one singular thing for why the way our season went,” Stills said. “I think the coaches are going to make some changes and are going to do some things to make sure we don’t have the same outcome next year.”

Those changes are already underway. The coaching staff parted ways with wide receivers coach Henry Ellard, assistant secondary coach Andre Curtis, and tight ends coach Terry Malone. Director of college scouting Rick Reiprish was also let go.

The team has also signed Jeff Ireland to help out with scouting and Dennis Allen to serve as an assistant defensive coach. Their exact roles have not been publicly defined.

It’s not yet known how the departing coaches will be replaced.

Stills was in Arizona to do promotional hits for Vizio. He said he will not be sticking around for Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Seahawks.

Delvin Breaux contract details

Delvin Breaux inked a three-year deal with the Saints worth $1.587 million, according to a source.

The deal contains a $12,000 signing and has $138,000 fully guaranteed for skill, injury and cap for 2015. There are no guarantees beyond the first season.

His base salaries over the next three seasons will be $435,000, $525,000 and $615,000.

Breaux signed with the Saints on Monday after staring at cornerback for the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

For more on Breaux, including his thoughts on signing with the Saints, click here.

Former Saints QB Jeff Blake says all teams deflate footballs

Former Saints quarterback Jeff Blake doesn’t understand all the hubbub over the Patriots allegedly deflating football during the AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts.

To him, this is common practice. So common, in fact, Blake says the balls were slightly deflated by quarterbacks in every game he played during his 13 years in the league — and it’s worth mentioning he played for seven different teams.

“I’m just going to let the cat out of the bag, every team does it, every game, it has been since I played,” Blake told the Los Angeles Times. “Cause when you take the balls out of the bag, they are rock hard.”

Blake spent the 2000 and 2001 seasons in New Orleans, playing under Jim Haslett. He started 11 games in 2000, but only made one appearance in 2001.

The Patriots have publicly stated they are not guilty of deflating footballs. The league is continuing to investigate the matter.

New England plays the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Saints save $150K in total salary for 2015

The Saints salary total for 2015 lost $150,000 worth of weight Wednesday, according to NFLPA documents.

Looking through the documents, it appears the savings come from wide receiver Andy Tanner and safety Ty Zimmerman’s salaries remaining at $435,000, instead of bumping up to $510,000, as previously listed.

Both players spent the 2014 season on injured reserve. Only the top 51 contracts count against the cap, so this likely doesn’t matter in the end.

According to a source with knowledge of how NFL contracts work, it’s not uncommon for teams to add provisions in contracts tied to credited seasons earned.

In this case, the player would get a “split salary” worth only $303,000 for the injured season, and remain at $435,000 the next year, which appears to be what happened in the case of these two players.

In other words, this is just updating the ledger on public information the Saints were already well aware of.

Seahawks safety Earl Thomas gives Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro a vote of confidence

PHOENIX — When Kenny Vaccaro was going through a rough patch late last season season that led to his role being changed by the Saints, he reached out to Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas for some words of wisdom.

A fellow product of the University of Texas, Thomas has developed a relationship with Vaccaro over the years and felt his experiences could help the Saints safety get his season back on track.

“Kenny he reached out to me when he got benched,” Thomas said. “He was real down on himself and I was telling him the story of when coach (Pete) Carroll almost benched me. We played the Giants my rookie year. We got blown out and I was giving up touchdowns left and right. I was just telling him that story and he felt better just from me being real with him.”

Thomas eventually recovered from his rough rookie season and has since emerged as one of the best safeties in the NFL. He’s made the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons and was a first-team All Pro each of the last three.

Watching from afar, Thomas sees no reason why Vaccaro, who possesses all the ability to play the position, can’t harness his skills and become one of the better safeties in the league with some additional seasoning.

“You see it. You see flashes,” Thomas said. “He just needs to understand the correct tempo. He’s very aggressive just like when I was when I was younger, and they’re going to use that against you.”