Saints/NFL draft chat

Saints agree to terms with 13 undrafted free agents

The Saints announced Sunday that they agreed to terms with with 13 players who were not chosen in the seven-round NFL draft that ended Saturday night.

Topping the list is former Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin, who confirmed Saturday night that he agreed to a deal with the Saints shortly after the final pick was announced.

The 6-foot-5, 206-pound Griffin started 39 games at Tulane. He completed 836 of 1,396 pass attempts for 9,026 yards with 79 touchdowns and 35 interceptions and set career records for attempts, completions and completion percentage,

Also agreeing to terms were linebackers Eric Martin, Kevin Reddick, Rayford Shipman and Chase Thomas; defensive end Glenn Foster; tight ends Josh Hill and Keavon Milton; guard Tim Lelito; cornerbacks Ryan Lacy and Rod Sweeting; running back Shawne Alston; and center Elliot Mealer.

They, along with the five players the Saints selected in the draft and a select group of other free agents, will participate in the team’s rookie minicamp to be held May 10-12.

Saints trade Ivory; beef up offensive, defensive lines in draft

In a flurry of activity Friday night, the Saints moved quickly to fill two areas of need with a pair of third-round selections on the second night of the NFL draft.

With their third-round pick, the Saints grabbed Arkansas-Pine Bluff tackle Terron Armstead at No. 75 and just minutes later executed a pair of trades that enabled them to get Georgia defensive tackle John Jenkins with the 82nd pick.

After selecting Armstead, the Saints, who didn’t have a selection in the second round, quickly went back to work and traded running back Chris Ivory to the New York Jets for a fourth-round pick (No. 106) in a deal that had been anticipated for the several days.

Then, General Manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton packaged the pick from the Jets with their own fourth-rounder (No. 109) to acquire the 82nd pick from the Miami Dolphins.

“I’m excited about tonight,” Payton said later. “We started the day with a list of seven or eight guys, and Armstead was at the top of the list. Then we were able to get ourselves a player (Jenkins) with presence and size.

“We wanted to become bigger and we had that opportunity,” Payton said of Jenkins, a 6-foot-4, 359-pounder who’ll get a chance to help shore up a defense that ranked last overall and was 31st against the run in 2012.

When the draft resumes at 11 a.m. Saturday, the Saints will have single picks in the fifth and sixth rounds at Nos. 144 and 183, respectively.

They won’t have selections in the fourth or seventh rounds as they sent their seventh-round choice to the Seattle Seahawks for middle linebacker Barrett Ruud during training camp last summer. Ruud was later released.

Saints select Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro with first-round pick

The best-case scenario for the first half of the NFL draft Thursday night, as far as the Saints were concerned, was to have one of a handful of the top-rated defensive players slide toward the middle of the first round.

So when the Saints went on the clock with the 15th pick, they were looking for some immediate help which they think they got when they chose Texas free safety Kenny Vaccaro.

New Iberia native Markell Gregoire, a cancer patient at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, announced the pick in New York City with the help of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

After a difficult 2012 season in which they gave up yards and points at a record-setting rate, Saints coach Sean Payton scrapped their old 4-3 defense and hired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan to implement a 3-4 alignment.

As a result, the Saints needed some playmakers on that side of the ball and picked up a couple in free agency when they signed cornerback Keenan Lewis and outside linebacker Victor Butler.

In choosing the 6-foot, 214-pound Vaccaro, the Saints made a move to add another player to help shore up a defense that set an NFL single-season record in allowing 7,042 total yards in 2012.

Retirement video from former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita

Credit goes to the Saints and NFL Films for this very special video of former New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita announcing his retirement from Machu Piccu.

Here is the link.

Saints/NFL Draft chat

Saints’ Ivory signs contract, but Jets still interested in trade

Saints running back Chris Ivory, a restricted free agent, on Friday signed the one-year tender offer that he received from the team in March.

The deal paves the way for Ivory to be traded by the Saints, and apparently the New York Jets are interested.

Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported Friday evening that the Jets are “interested in acquiring the bruising 26-year-old running back for a lower draft choice.”

Ivory visited the Jets’ training facility on April 12, but they weren’t interested in parting with a second-round pick to obtain his services.

Ivory, who was the Saints leading rusher in 2010 when he made the roster as an undrafted free agent, was offered a one-year deal for $2.023 million with a second-round draft pick as compensation.

Ivory, however, was eligible to receive an offer from any other team until Friday. If he had received an offer, the Saints would have had a chance to match it or get a second-round pick in return.

The 6-foot, 222-pound Ivory had 137 carries for 716 yards with five touchdowns and was a consensus NFL All-Rookie team pick in 2010. In three seasons with the Saints, he has 1,307 yards and 10 TDs.

His 5.1 yards per carry average for his career ranks third in franchise history.

Saints set exact dates, kickoff times for exhibition games

The Saints, who will find out their regular-season schedule on Thursday night, now know the exact dates and times for their four preseason games.

The NFL announced two weeks ago that the Saints would play all of their exhibition games against AFC foes, but the only one that had an exact date for was a nationally-televised Aug. 25 game with the Houston Texans.

That game, which will be played in Reliant Stadium on a Sunday, kicks off at 3 p.m. on Fox Sports. The Saints’ other preseason games will be televised by CST.

Their two home games will be played on a Friday at 7 p.m. as they open with the Kansas City Chiefs on Aug. 9 and take on the Oakland Raiders on Aug. 16. After facing the Texans on Aug. 25, they will play at the Miami Dolphins on Aug. 29 at 6:30 p.m. to wrap up the preseason.

The entire 2013 NFL regular-season schedule will be revealed at 7 p.m. Thursday on NFL Network.

Saints/NFL draft chat with Sheldon Mickles

Saints starting center de la Puente signs tender offer

Saints starting center Brian de la Puente, a restricted free agent, officially signed the one-year tender offer the team extended to him before the start of free agency in early March.

The Saints announced Tuesday that de la Puente, a four-year veteran, signed the one-year, $2.023 million offer, which carried a second-round draft pick as compensation.

As a restricted free agent, de la Puente was eligible to receive an offer from any other team. If he had, the Saints would have had the right to match the deal or accept a second-round draft pick in return.

De la Puente joined the Saints practice squad midway through the 2010 season and a year later took over as the starting center when Olin Kreutz retired before a Week 7 game with the Indianapolis Colts.

The 6-foot-3, 306-pound de la Puente started all 16 games at center for the first time in 2012, as part of an offensive line that surrendered only 26 sacks. He helped block for an offense than ranked second in the NFL in total net yards and led the league in passing yards.

Running back Chris Ivory is the Saints’ only other restricted free agent. Like de la Puente, he was offered a one-year tender for $2.023 million and has until April 19 to receive an offer from another team.