- Mike Triplett, ESPN Staff Writer
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New Orleans Saints free-agent center Brian de la Puente is exploring other options. He visited with the Washington Redskins on Wednesday. And there will be “more visits coming” if de la Puente doesn’t sign there, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan.
I don’t think the Saints have ruled out the idea of bringing back de la Puente. But clearly there’s a strong chance he could get away.
If de la Puente signs elsewhere, one name that looms as a perfect fit is Jonathan Goodwin. The former Saints center is now a free agent again after spending three years with the San Francisco 49ers. He could step right back into the starting lineup and give the Saints a chance to develop a future replacement.
It’s also possible that a young guy could win the job this year. The Saints like the potential of second-year pro Tim Lelito, though his only experience last year came at the guard position. They could draft a center in the early to middle rounds.
Saints moving on: Two former Saints found work elsewhere Wednesday after the Saints didn’t retain them as restricted free agents -- fullback Jed Collins with the Detroit Lions and defensive lineman Tom Johnson with the Minnesota Vikings.
Collins told ESPN.com Lions reporter Michael Rothstein that he expected to stay in New Orleans -- even up until Monday night, when he was informed the Saints were going in another direction with new fullback Erik Lorig. Fortunately, Collins landed in a great spot, reuniting with former Saints quarterbacks coach and current Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi up there in “New Orleans North.”
Also Tuesday, Caplan reported that former Saints offensive tackle Charles Brown will visit with the New York Giants.
And veteran cornerback Chris Carr, who spent much of last season in New Orleans, announced his decision to retire on Twitter. Check out his farewell messages at @TriplCarr, including his note to NOLA: “it was a splendid experience playing for the Saints; rich culture, great food, and extremely supported fan base.”
Gleason’s birthday: Sean Payton and the Saints’ staff came out in full force to celebrate Steve Gleason’s 37th birthday on Wednesday, presenting him with a framed No. 37 jersey. And @TeamGleason received some celebrity submissions for their contest asking fans to re-enact Gleason’s famous blocked punt: This entry from Scott Fujita and family; and this from Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready, with help from family and friends.
The past year has been the most difficult, most excellent year of my life. Thanx 4 the birthday luv! I believe next year will b even better!
— steve gleason (@TeamGleason) March 20, 2014
Byrd incentives: ESPN reporter Field Yates passed on a small but interesting detail of safety Jairus Byrd’s new six-year, $54 million contract with the Saints. Technically, $1.5 million could be counted as incentives. Byrd needs to either earn two Pro Bowl invitations of two first-team All-NFL selections between 2014-16 to receive the maximum value of his deal.
It’s essentially a Pro Bowl incentive in reverse. If Byrd doesn’t get any Pro Bowl or All-Pro recognition during the next three years, his base salary will deescalate by $500,000 per year over the final three years. If he’s honored only once, his salaries will de-escalate by a total of $1 million.
QB guessing game: Saints quarterback Drew Brees is mentioned in this intriguing piece by ESPN.com Vikings reporter Ben Goessling on why it’s so difficult for NFL teams to evaluate quarterback prospects.