Center Goodwin expected to return to New Orleans

To heat up the battle for the job of starting center, the Saints are reportedly turning to an old friend.

The Saints on Monday agreed in principle to a deal with Jonathan Goodwin, according to ESPN’s Mike Triplett, who cited a league source. Goodwin was in New Orleans already from 2006-10; then left for San Francisco in free agency for three seasons; went back on the open market; and, Triplett noted, could officially re-sign with the Saints as early as Tuesday.

Terms hadn’t been finalized on a contract, though indications were it would probably be for one year.

Goodwin was a Pro Bowler the year the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV. It’s anticipated the 35-year-old will mainly compete with second-year offensive lineman Tim Lelito for a spot that was vacated when Brian de la Puente, the Saints’ starting center since 2011, left for the Chicago Bears in April via free agency.

Lelito started twice at right guard as a Saints rookie and played center with the first team during drills at the opening series of voluntary organized team activities from May 27-29. A second series of OTAs runs Tuesday to Thursday.

Meanwhile, in what’s an apparent indication that Goodwin’s return might be soon, the Saints on Monday waived two players: guard/center Mike Golic Jr. and linebacker Spencer Hadley.

The waiving of Golic, undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2013, is notable because he had played center with the backups in drills at OTAs last week. Hadley, part of whose contract was guaranteed, was an undrafted rookie out of Brigham Young.

The Saints began Monday with the offseason maximum of 90 players on their roster and would’ve had no room to add any players without unloading someone.

With Goodwin at center, the 49ers made it to the NFC title game three times and the Super Bowl once. He was entrenched on an offensive line tasked with being in front of one of the NFL’s most intricate running schemes, a ground game that finished eighth, fourth and third in yards per game in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Nonetheless, Goodwin was allowed to become a free agent after the 49ers signed backup guard/center Daniel Kilgore to a three-year extension. Kilgore is nine years younger than Goodwin.

It’s possible the Saints haven’t reunited with Goodwin sooner because veteran signings after June 1 (which was Sunday) don’t affect a team’s possibilities to get compensatory draft picks.

Training camp dates set

After being in West Virginia from July 24 through Aug. 13, the Saints are scheduled to conclude their training camp with six public workouts at their Metairie headquarters and another at Mandeville High during a stretch from Aug. 17-26, the team announced Monday.

Fans should note that practices may be moved indoors in the event of rain, thunderstorms or extreme heat with little or no advance warning. In those cases, due to space limitations, practices would be closed to the public, the Saints said.

Regarding training camp, the Saints are scheduled to report to The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, on July 24, for physicals and meetings as well as strength and conditioning tests.

The Saints are scheduled to begin the regular season at the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 7.

Minicamp open to fans

Meanwhile, the team added, the Saints’ mandatory June 10-12 minicamp at their headquarters at 5800 Airline Drive will be open to fans. Minicamp sessions are from 10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m., and gates open at 9:30 a.m., each day.

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