Saints approach Ramon Humber about returning

Having established himself as one of the Saints’ best special-teams players in 2013, backup linebacker/soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent Ramon Humber has been approached about prolonging his time in New Orleans, according to league sources.

The Saints have recently had early discussions with a number of their players who are due to hit free agency March 11 and whom they’d like to retain, including tackle Zach Strief, receiver Robert Meachem, linebacker Parys Haralson and safety Rafael Bush. Count Humber among them after he tied for third in solo special-teams tackles (six). He also recovered onside kicks in a Week 15 loss to St. Louis and in a Week 16 loss to Carolina.

He received almost 63,000 Pro Bowl fan votes for his efforts, which was No. 9 among special teamers, though he wasn’t selected for the game.

Positioned under inside linebackers Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne on the depth chart, Humber also filled in on defense in some of the Saints’ specialty packages, recording 0.5 sacks and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage. He arrived in New Orleans in 2010 after going to Super Bowl XLIV with the Indianapolis Colts, who lost that game to the Saints.

“We put a lot on his plate,” Saints special teams coach Greg McMahon said when asked about Humber toward the end of the 2013 season. “And we know what we’re going to get in this player — he’s dependable; he makes plays when he needs to make plays, so that’s why we kind of lean on him.”

The Saints have held the preliminary talks with Humber and the others while carrying an estimated salary-cap figure of $125 million. Recent reports have stated the 2014 cap could be about $132 million, if not more.

The primary objective New Orleans hopes to accomplish with any available cap space is to hold on to All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham, who’s at the end of the contract he accepted from the Saints as a rookie.

The team has said it is pursuing a new long-term deal for Graham; or, if that doesn’t materialize, it will apply the franchise tag on him. The Saints and Graham remained millions of dollars per season apart from a long-term deal as of Tuesday, Fox Sports 1 reported.

Barrow expected faster run

LSU senior Lamin Barrow was one of the fastest linebackers to attend the NFL Scouting Combine. But although he’s pleased about that, he insists he can still run faster than the time of 4.64 he put up in the 40-yard dash last week in Indianapolis.

“Overall, I’m really satisfied with the numbers I put up,” Barrow said via a statement he sent Thursday through his agent, Martin Fischman.

However, he also said: “I actually expected to run a little faster.”

Barrow credited his time — which was the third-fastest among the 27 linebackers who ran at the combine — to his training at LSU and at the elite athletics performance school IMG Academy.

“It felt really good,” Barrow said. “I was well-prepared.”

Lagniappe

Saints guard Ben Grubbs is holding his second annual charity softball game at Zephyr Field. This year’s edition will be May 15.

There will be a home run derby at 6 p.m., and the game will pit the Saints defense against the offense. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit local Boys and Girls’ clubs.

The public can purchase tickets at Ticketmaster or at the Zephyr Field box office.

Meanwhile, Hahnville coach Lou Valdin and Saints journalist Mike Triplett will be among those honored by The Touchdown Club of New Orleans March 15. Valdin is the winningest coach in Hahnville history, and he won the 2003 Class 5A state title. Triplett, winner of the Bob Roesler Media Award, covered the Saints and LSU for 11 seasons for The Times-Picayune. He now covers the Saints for ESPN.com.