Sports

Jun 5, 2014 9:33 AM by AP

Saints Bring Back Center Jonathan Goodwin


NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The Saints and Jonathan Goodwin have agreed to a one-year contract bringing the veteran center back to New Orleans, the club announced Tuesday.

The 35-year-old Goodwin has spent the past three seasons with San Francisco, playing in three straight NFC title games and a Super Bowl.

Goodwin played for New Orleans from 2006 to 2010, starting the last three of those seasons. He was named to a Pro Bowl and won a Super Bowl in the 2009 season. His new deal is worth $955,000, a person familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because financial terms were not released.

The Saints also signed defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick to a one-year contract, general manager Mickey Loomis said.

Prior to the re-acquisition of Goodwin, second-year pro Tim Lelito and undrafted rookie Matt Armstrong were the top candidates to take over the Saints' starting center job, which was vacated by Brian de la Puente when he left for Chicago in free agency.

The experience of the 6-foot-3, 318-pound Goodwin, a 12-year veteran, will give him an edge.

Lelito saw limited action last season, but only as a reserve guard, while his work as a backup center was limited to practice.

At the same time, the Saints see the 6-4, 315-pound Lelito as a promising prospect and also have asserted that a young center can thrive in their system, in part because quarterback Drew Brees calls out the bulk of blocking adjustments at the line of scrimmage and in part because whoever plays center will have a pair of veteran Pro Bowlers on either side of him in guards Jahri Evans and Ben Grubbs.

However, because offseason practices do not involve full contact, it has been difficult for coaches to fully evaluate how ready Lelito is to be a regular center.

"Tim is someone that has handled the transition right now pretty well," coach Sean Payton said last week. "But he is going to have to, when we get into training camp, do it in a live setting."

Like Lelito, the 6-2, 302-pound Armstrong played at Grand Valley State. Last season, he was named by the Rimington Award committee as the nation's top Division II center.

Evans is the only starter on the offensive line who also started during Goodwin's last season in New Orleans. Goodwin was teammates with Zach Strief for five seasons, but Strief did not take over as the starter at right tackle until 2011, the year Goodwin left for San Francisco.

On the left side of the line are Grubbs, who was acquired as a free agent in 2012, and tackle Terron Armstrong, who was drafted in 2013.

The 6-4, 305-pound Deaderick is a four-year NFL veteran who has played in 47 career games with 15 starts. He joined the NFL as New England's seventh-round pick in 2010 and spent three seasons with the Patriots. Last season, he played for Jacksonville, appearing in 13 games. He has been credited with 50 tackles in his career, along with 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and two passes defensed.

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