Saints agree to terms on four-year deal with free-agent FB Erik Lorig

Associated Press photo by Brian BlancoBuccaneers fullback Erik Lorig runs against the Carolina Panthers.
Associated Press photo by Brian BlancoBuccaneers fullback Erik Lorig runs against the Carolina Panthers.

Erik Lorig, a free-agent fullback who recently visited the Saints after spending four seasons with Tampa Bay, has reached terms on a four-year contract with New Orleans, the team announced Tuesday.

The Saints did not disclose the terms of the deal, but writer Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and the National Football Post reported it was worth $4.8 million and carried a $1 million signing bonus. Wilson said Lorig’s salary would be $750,000 in 2014 and 2015 and $900,000 in 2016 and 2017, and the player would receiver an annual $50,000 workout bonus.

News of Lorig follows the Saints’ decision to not tender a contract offer to Jed Collins, who had been with the Saints since 2011 but was allowed to hit the open market this offseason.

Lorig, who most recently played with the Buccaneers, was seen as one of the best players available in free agency at his position. He has been praised for blocking well for a Tampa Bay rushing attack that managed to gain more than 100 yards per contest despite losing its best running back, Doug Martin, to a season-ending shoulder injury six games into 2013.

All of Lorig’s touches in the NFL have been receptions. He caught 30 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown.

Collins is a top-class fullback, too; but he’s different than Lorig. He has missed just one game in his three seasons with New Orleans. He has shown he can block on runs and passes and can pick up tough short-yardage first downs. He has caught four touchdown passes and rushed for three scores during his time in New Orleans.

The lowest tender Collins — who was a restricted free agent — could’ve been offered would’ve been worth a relatively hefty $1.32 million because of his experience. A tender gives teams the opportunity to match any offer sheet a restricted free agent might sign to retain the player.

Collins remained on the open market Tuesday morning. The Detroit Free Press reported he was visiting with the Lions on Wednesday.

The Lions’ offensive coordinator is Joe Lombardi. Lombardi had been the Saints’ quarterbacks coach since 2009 before leaving for Detroit in January.