Michael Mauti will be back with the Saints next season. According to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com, the linebacker and special teams ace has signed a one-year contract with the team. The 27-year-old will earn a $775K base salary, with $125K guaranteed and a $80K signing bonus.
Throughout the offseason, it sounded like that Mauti would ultimately return to New Orleans. Back in April, head coach Sean Payton said that he expected the linebacker to be fully recovered from offseason surgery by the time training camp came around, even though Mauti was still a free agent at the time. Despite the optimism, Mauti worked out for the Texans late last week (via Katzenstein), but a workout with the Saints earlier today ultimately led to a new contract.
Mauti was forced to undergo three surgeries (including one to remove his large intestine) over the past year to fix his ulcerative colitis, a disease that forced him to end his 2016 season prematurely. The former seventh-round pick had to get back into football shape before securing an offer, perhaps explaining why it took so long for the organization to re-sign him.
Following two underwhelming seasons with the Vikings, Mauti has caught on with the Saints over the past two years. The linebacker has compiled 46 tackles and one forced fumble in 24 games (two starts) with New Orleans, and his special teams prowess earned him a role as a captain last season. Mauti will presumably continue to contribute on that unit, as the Saints are currently rostering nine other linebackers.
Despite joining many of his high-first-round peers from 2013 in not living up to their draft statuses, D.J. Hayden signed a one-year, $3.75MM deal from the Lions. He will be looking to bounce back after four inconsistent seasons with the Raiders. His former GM agrees that Hayden needed to go elsewhere.
“I think he probably made a good decision by getting away from Oakland,” Reggie McKenzietold the Detroit Free Press at the NFL owners meetings last week. “Fresh start.”
McKenzie considered making a push to re-sign the former No. 12 overall pick, and per the Free Press’ Dave Birkett, that might have happened if Hayden came at more of a discount. But the sixth-year Raiders GM concluded that if Hayden was going to reach his potential as an NFL corner he would have to leave Oakland. The injuries that dogged Hayden “killed his confidence,” per McKenzie. Hayden played in 16 games just once in his four Raider years, in 2015, and missed the final five games last season. The Lions are expected to give Hayden a quality opportunity to win their slot corner job alongside Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson.
“All he lacked, and it’s hard coming from a near-death situation and being thrown right in and had a couple relapses because of the illness, but he was always playing behind the 8-ball from a physical standpoint,” McKenzie said. “So if he gets that behind him, his confidence will grow. He never, I think in his whole time in Oakland, the confidence for him to really thrive was not where it needed to be.”
Here’s more from around league.
The Titans may have a different view of Connecticut safety prospect Obi Melifonwu than some other teams. They worked out the UConn product today as a cornerback, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). The organization reportedly likes the 6-foot-4, 224-pound player’s size and cover skills. Melifonwu also has a 4.40-second 40-yard dash clocking, which is good for a corner while being excellent for a safety. The ex-Huskies back-line defender being envisioned as a corner isn’t merely a Titans viewpoint, though, with around 40 percent of NFL teams categorizing the safety this way.
Adrian Peterson‘s Patriots visit strikes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk as a tactic aimed at getting LeGarrette Blount‘s attention. Noting New England’s secretive nature, this Monday summit being made public now and not after the fact leads Florio to believe this is a get-acquainted session at best. Florio writes this could be a method used at getting Blount to take what’s being offered instead of holding out for more money on the heels of an 18-touchdown season. Blount and the Patriots broke off talks last month.
Prior to actually participating in Wrestlemania 33, Rob Gronkowski said he would be ready to go by the time the Patriots’ offseason program begins later this month, In an interview with ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman (video link), Gronk said he feels good after his latest surgery and would be “ready to roll” when the team reconvenes on April 17. The soon-to-be 28-year-old tight end underwent back surgery in December.
Saints coach Sean Payton expects recovering linebacker Michael Mauti to be ready by the time training camp comes, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com reports. Stricken with an intestinal disease, the 27-year-old linebacker did not play in eight Saints games last season because of it. He remains a UFA, but the Saints have interest in retaining the backup defender. Mauti contemplated having a surgery to fix this years-long problem last spring but opted against since he was going into a contract year. Energy and weight loss led to the Saints placing Mauti on their NFI list in November, and he underwent surgery in December. The team still paid him his full $675K salary last season. Mauti told Katzenstein he wants to continue his career with the Saints.
The Rams are receiving “significant interest” as they attempt to trade franchise-tagged cornerback Trumaine Johnson, per Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter link). As of yet, the only club to be directly linked to the Johnson discussions is the Browns, and even that report from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com was seemingly tangential and not indicative of definitive interest. Johnson is set to earn nearly $17MM in 2017 under his second consecutive franchise tender.
Here’s more from the NFC:
Free agent defensive tackle Terrell McClain is generating “a lot of interest” from the 49ers, writes Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News. McClain is coming off the best season of his career, as he started more 12 or more games for the first time since 2012. In 15 starts, McClain put up 39 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles. He’s also been linked to Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, and Miami.
Although the Saints have interest in retaining linebacker Michael Mauti, a deal may not come together until later in free agency, according to Joel Erickson of the Advocate (Twitter link). Mauti, 27, played in eight games for New Orleans last season before being placed on the NFI list with an intestinal issue. While he’s not a contributor on defense, Mauti did play 35% of the Saints’ special teams snaps despite only managing a half-season.
The meeting between the Vikings and controversial running back prospect Joe Mixon went “very well,” tweets Matt Miller of Bleacher Report. Mixon will meet with the Raiders next, per Miller, after posting a successful Pro Day this afternoon.
Drew Brees does not expect to be playing for a different Saints coach in 2017 despite Sean Payton‘s name again being a constant in the coaching rumors section of the NFL news cycle. The quarterback who signed a one-year extension just before this season “absolutely” expects Payton to stay in New Orleans for what would be his 12th year with the franchise.
“I’ve heard some of the same stuff that I heard last year, and I felt like I had a pretty good feeling last year,” Brees said, via Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. “And I don’t see why it would be any different this year.”
Payton has been connected with the Rams after a report emerged indicating the 52-year-old having “sincere interest” in acquiring the veteran coach in a trade. A report pegged the Saints as being open to exploring a Payton trade, with another denying the team was thinking of shopping him. The Saints have made the playoffs just once in the past five seasons, although the 2012 absence came without Payton due to the Bountygate suspension.
Here’s more from the NFC as teams make Week 17 preparations.
Saints outside linebacker Michael Mauti underwent surgery for a large intestine issue, leading to the Saints placing the fourth-year player on their NFI list in November. But the Penn State product revealed he hopes to play in 2017, Katzenstein reports.
The Saints tried out linebackers Frank Beltre and Deon Lacey, a source tells Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter). Earlier today, they signed linebacker Brian Blechen to their practice squad.
Carlos Hyde described the MCL sprain he sustained as being worse than the one that sidelined him at Ohio State in 2012, Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News reports. The 49ers‘ backfield starter will enter a contract year in 2017. He’s expected to return, injury problems notwithstanding, but Inman projectsTrent Baalke and DC Jim O’Neil to be fired at season’s end. However, the reporter expects Chip Kelly and OC Curtis Modkins to stay, citing some sense of continuity is needed to avoid having four head coaches in four years. Inman also anticipates none of the 49ers’ three quarterbacks to be back but points to both Torrey Smith and Jeremy Kerley staying in what should be a turbulent offseason.
After drafting wideouts the past two years, the Redskins figure to let DeSean Jackson walk, Elliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com reports. This would open the door for the deep threat to reunite with former teammates on the receiver-starved Eagles. This would make sense from a need standpoint, and there have been multiple connections between D-Jax and his former team, but Philly is projected to be $800K-plus over the cap in 2017 after signing numerous players to extensions this offseason. The Eagles would need to shed salary to make room for Jackson. For his part, the 30-year-old wideout said he’s “intrigued” about being a free agent.
The Saints will be without one of their special teams aces for the rest of the season. Nick Underhill of The New Orleans Advocate tweets that the team has placed Michael Mauti on the reserve/non-football injury list. Safety Chris Banjo will be taking Mauti’s spot on the roster, reports Joel Erickson of The Advocate (via Twitter).
Following James Laurinaitis‘ season-ending injury in early November, the team has lost another captain in Mauti. It’s uncertain what ailment landed the 26-year-old on this season-ending list, as the defender showed up on the team’s injury report with an undisclosed illness. The former seventh-round pick has nine tackles and one forced fumble on the season, with the four-year veteran contributing both on special teams and at strong-side linebacker. Defensively, the Saints will likely rely on Sam Barrington, Stephone Anthony, and Nathan Stupar to fill in at linebacker.
Banjo was released by the Packers with an injury settlement in late October after having suffered a hamstring injury. In three-plus seasons in Green Bay, the 26-year-old appeared in 37 games, compiling 38 tackles and three passes defended.