Roman Harper is returning home.
After two seasons with the Carolina Panthers, the longtime Saint is coming back to New Orleans, Harper’s agency Sports Trust Advisors announced Tuesday. The Saints later confirmed the signing, but terms of the deal were not revealed.
The 33 year old was a key part of a defensive resurgence in Carolina that helped the Panthers reach the Super Bowl this past season. However, New Orleans is where he did his finest work. Over seven seasons, he logged seven picks for 105 return yards and a touchdown. He also broke up 54 passes, forced 15 fumbles, notched 17 sacks and amassed a stunning 529 tackles. He led New Orleans in tackles during their 31-17 win over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
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The team hopes pairing Harper with former first-round pick Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd will be a calming influence for a chaotic defensive backfield that floundered last season. With promising stars like Delvin Breaux also in the mix, New Orleans is hoping for a dramatic improvement from a unit that finished 31st against the pass a year ago.
Some might view this as an indictment on Byrd, who has not lived up to the massive six-year, $54 million deal he signed in 2014. Though the Saints seem to be financially tied to Byrd through this season, they could be lining up potential options to replace him. Along with Harper, the team also used a second-round pick on Ohio State safety Vonn Bell in this year’s draft.
Good for New Orleans. This team seems like a powder keg in the best possible way. The combination of Drew Brees and that receiving corps is still tantalizing but something is always holding them back. Sunday was not the assertive offensive explosion we were looking for, but it was a physical and efficient performance. The ageless Tim Hightower went for 102 yards (nearly four per carry) while Brees spread the ball around nicely — six players had two or more catches and two had six catches each.
Credit Seattle for this: The middle of their defense is absolutely terrifying. I counted five straight handoffs over two goal line possessions to Hightower where the play was shut down without a score. Drew Brees had to go over the top for one score and had to dial up a pick play slant for another. The teeth of this unit is built to thrive in November and December, so don’t count them out by any stretch.
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C. J. Prosise is adding a fun element to Seattle’s backfield. More a combination of a poor man’s Percy Harvin and Le’Veon Bell, Prosise led the Seahawks in receiving (four catches, 80 yards) and added another 23 yards on the ground to complement Christine Michael. As the offense continues to develop, Prosise should help tight end Jimmy Graham torture linebackers and box safeties.
The Saints placed cornerback and former first-round pick Kyle Wilson on the reserved / injury list Friday. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Wilson suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder.
Wilson started four of the 15 games he played in with the Saints last season, tallying 27 tackles and an interception. Selected 29th overall by the New York Jets in the 2010 NFL Draft, Wilson played four seasons in Gotham — his best season coming in 2012 when he started 15 games.
The Saints signed defensive tackle C.J. Wilson to take over Kyle Wilson’s spot on the roster.