Add outside linebacker Parys Haralson to the list of veterans whose free agency departure the Saints have expressed an early interest in preventing.
Haralson’s camp and the Saints have had an initial discussion about a deal that would keep the 30-year-old Mississippi native in New Orleans for 2014, according to more than one league source. The team recently had similar discussions with wide receiver Robert Meachem and tackle Zach Strief.
ESPN’s Mike Triplett first reported that the Saints and Haralson were in early talks about a possible contract renewal.
Haralson, who’s been in the NFL since 2006, was a valuable contributor after the Saints traded a late-round draft pick to San Francisco for him in the wake of a season-ending knee injury that the now-released Will Smith sustained in the preseason.
He had 3.5 sacks in the regular season, fourth most on the team. He had 30 tackles, five of which resulted in lost yards; eight quarterback hits and a pass break-up.
In an interview at the Senior Bowl in January, Ryan Pace, the Saints’ director of player personnel, mentioned Haralson as one of the two acquisitions New Orleans was most proud of last year.
“Those are the moves that you really feel like you’ve done a lot of work on those guys, and then they come in and play well,” Pace said.
Getting to New Orleans, Haralson was coming back from a season-ending injury with the 49ers in 2012, when he tore a triceps tendon in his left arm in an exhibition. He tore a pectoral muscle during the Saints’ wildcard playoff win at Philadelphia and underwent surgery; but one of the sources said he’s on schedule to be fully healed by April 21, the date teams with returning head coaches can launch their offseason workout programs.
If the Saints can iron out a deal to bring Haralson back, he’d reincorporate himself into a position group that also counts on Junior Galette, second on the Saints with 12 sacks last year; and Victor Butler, who missed the campaign with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.