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Saints patch secondary with Keenan Lewis

3/14/2013

In an effort to fix a pass defense that was dismal last season, the New Orleans Saints have turned to their own backyard.

They have signed New Orleans native Keenan Lewis, a free-agent cornerback from the Pittsburgh Steelers to a five-year-contract, the team announced Thursday afternoon.

“I’m very excited to be able to come back to my hometown,” Lewis said. “Having grown up here I understand the passion that the fans have for the Saints, and I’m blessed to be able to have the chance to play in front of them here in the future.’’

The Saints are taking a bit of a leap of faith. Lewis, 26, didn’t become a full-time starter in Pittsburgh until last season, and he has only one career interception. But Lewis played well for the Steelers last season and has plenty of upside. Lewis was tested often last season. He was targeted 112 times (second-most in the league, according to Pro Football Focus). But he consistently held up and led the AFC with 23 passes broken up.

That’s something the Saints need as they adjust to new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Lewis likely becomes an instant starter opposite Jabari Greer. That’s reflected by Lewis’ contract. It’s worth $26.3 million, and includes $10.5 million in guarantees.

Although there had been some talk that the Saints could be interested in Nnamdi Asomugha, the signing of Lewis probably puts an end to that.

The Saints still have some work to do on their front seven, but adding Lewis should help solidify the secondary.