Seeking to strengthen their secondary, the Saints were hosting 12-time Pro Bowl defensive back Champ Bailey for a free agent visit, numerous national outlets reported Tuesday.
The reports, one of which said Bailey could visit at least one other team depending on how things went with New Orleans, began circulating after Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis posted a photo of himself posing next to Bailey at team headquarters on the social media service Instagram. Lewis wrote under the picture: “My dream was always to meet this guy and I finally did. Amen God and thankyou. A real legend. Champ Bailey.”
Bailey, who’s logged 15 NFL seasons and will be 36 in June, has the third-most career interceptions (52) among active players. The three-time All-Pro and future Hall of Famer spent his first five years in with Washington and was traded to Denver in 2004.
He has four career interception returns for touchdowns, the last of which was in 2006. That year, he picked off a career-high 10 passes for a personal best 162 return yards.
After a productive 2012, a preseason foot injury limited Bailey to just eight games in 2013, three of which were in the playoffs and included Denver’s loss to Seattle in the Super Bowl. It was the worst year of his career.
Denver released Bailey at the beginning of March to save about $10 million in salary-cap space.
As for the Saints, they’re searching for candidates to partner with Lewis. While 2012 fifth-round pick Corey White handled those duties after Jabari Greer (now released) suffered a year-ending knee injury in a Week 12 win against San Francisco, there was a drop in play at times.
Another player who at the moment is slated to compete for the spot opposite Lewis is Patrick Robinson. Robinson sustained a year-ending knee injury in a Week 2 win at Tampa Bay.
Saints coach Sean Payton recently said cornerbacks talented in coverage and at creating turnovers are always at a premium in the NFL. Bailey certainly fits the bill for a defense that finished fourth overall in 2013 but also fourth from the bottom in takeaways, of which New Orleans had 19.
The Saints addressed that dearth of takeaways with their first move in free agency: acquiring former Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd, whose 22 career interceptions since joining the NFL in 2009 are the most among players at his position during that time span.
Parys back in N.O.
Outside linebacker Parys Haralson’s last snap for the Saints most likely won’t be the one in which he tore a pectoral muscle during a January playoff game. That’s because New Orleans on Tuesday announced it had reached terms on a one-year deal that would bring Haralson back for 2014.
Terms were not immediately disclosed.
Haralson, who was a free agent, was a valuable contributor in 2013 after the Saints traded a late-round draft pick to San Francisco for him in the wake of a pair of season-ending knee injuries among New Orleans’ outside linebackers in the preseason. He had 3.5 sacks in the regular season, fourth-most on the team, to go with 30 tackles.
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.
Haralson hurt the pec in the left side of his chest late in the second quarter of the Saints’ wildcard win at Philadelphia. The crowd at Lincoln Financial Field rained boos down on Haralson as trainers examined him on the field, suspecting that he flopped to slow Philadelphia’s up-tempo offense down. They were wrong — Haralson left the game and didn’t return.
Both Haralson and the Saints were interested in reuniting for 2014 as early as late February, sources had told The Advocate. It had been anticipated that Haralson — a 30-year-old Flora, Miss., native who went to college at Tennessee — would be healthy in time for offseason workout programs in the spring.
Having lost his job as the Saints’ starting left tackle 14 games into the 2013 season, Charles Brown on Tuesday signed a free-agent deal with the New York Giants, the NFL said. ... Former Saints defensive end/linebacker Will Smith was in New England for a free agent visit with the Patriots on Tuesday, ESPN’s John Clayton reported. ... A charity softball game hosted at Zephyr Field by Saints guard Ben Grubbs has been pushed back from May 15 to May 21. Tickets are available to the public at Ticketmaster or the Zephyr Field box office, and proceeds benefit local Boys and Girls clubs.