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.