Saints Sign James Laurinaitis

MARCH 25, 9:55am: Laurinaitis’ three-year deal has a base value of $8.5MM, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (all Twitter links). More details on the deal:

  • Signing bonus: $1.8MM
  • Workout bonus: $50K annually
  • Roster bonuses: $250K in 2017 and 2018 (due on third day of respective league years)
  • Incentives: Up to $500K annually via playing time and team ranking
  • Annual base salaries $900K (2016), $2.45MM (2017), $2.45MM (2018)
  • Annual cap hits: $1.55MM (2016), $3.35MM (2017), $3.35MM (2018)

MARCH 17, 3:35pm: The Saints have officially confirmed their agreement with Laurinaitis, announcing that it’s a three-year contract for the veteran linebacker (Twitter link).

MARCH 16, 8:30pm: The Saints and free agent linebacker James Laurinaitis have agreed to a deal, tweets Rand Getlin of Details of the contract aren’t yet available.

After the Rams released Laurinaitis last month, the 29-year-old made two confirmed visits. One was with the Saints, who beat out the other – the NFC South rival Falcons – for his services.

Laurinaitis will add durability and productivity to a Saints defense that ranked 31st in the NFL last season. The ex-Ohio State "<strongstandout has never missed a game or a start since entering the league in 2009, suiting up 112 consecutive times. He’s also fresh off his seventh 100-tackle campaign in a row and has racked up 16.5 sacks and 10 interceptions during his career.

Laurinaitis added 109 tackles, an interception, a sack and a forced fumble last season, but Pro Football Focus (subscription required) rated his performance a below-average 83rd out of 97 qualifying LBs. He graded out especially poorly against the run, which doesn’t seem to bode well for the Saints – who allowed the league’s highest yards-per-carry average last season (4.9).

In New Orleans, Laurinaitis will join a corps of linebackers that was likely to feature Stephone Anthony, Hau’oli Kikaha and Dannell Ellerbe in starting roles. It’s unclear how the addition of Laurinaitis – a middle linebacker who played 99.7 percent of the Rams’ defensive snaps last season – will impact Anthony. After the Saints took him in the first round of last year’s draft, Anthony started all 16 of their games, made 112 tackles, forced two fumbles, and added a sack and an interception while manning the middle of their defense.

In addition to Laurinaitis, the Saints inked linebacker Nate Stupar on Wednesday. He’s mainly a contributor on special teams, however. Previously, the Saints made changes to their LB group by releasing David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber in February.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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4 comments on “Saints Sign James Laurinaitis

  1. steve

    Weak against the run and not having the Rams d-line in front of him will expose him even more. Great guy but avg LB.

    • UnanymousSuperBowler

      The saints do run a 3-4 so laurinaitis could be used to help in the passing game more while anthony handles run which he has shown good enough skill to do so

      • UnanymousSuperBowler

        Sorry about the repeated comment i didnt relize it went through the first time

  2. dempsey77

    Wow, this is one heck of a value signing for the Saints…I think that dollar figure makes this deal an absolute bargain for a guy that will easily average 75+ tackles per year for the duration of the deal. Good team leader and veteran presence for the locker room too. Good move for NOLA!

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