Friday, 04 March 2011 11:38
New Orleans Saints Keeps Pierre Thomas,Panthers Gets Shockey
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Ed Staton-Louisiana SportsThe Saints surprised the NFL nation by signing running back Pierre Thomas to four-year contract.

I didn't think the Saints were that keen on keeping Thomas, their best running back. They placed a restricted tender on him on Thursday night, but I thought it was probably a low tender and the Saints might allow Thomas to walk.

That's largely because it sure seemed like there was a rift between Thomas and coach Sean Payton last season as he missed 10 games with an ankle injury After making two inconsequential appearances in December, Thomas came through with a big game against Atlanta on Dec. 27. With some other injuries in the backfield, the Saints didn't have a choice but to lean heavily on Thomas.

They gave him 19 carries and he got 63 yards and a key touchown. He also looked a lot like the player he was in 2009 and that might have changed some minds.

The Saints attempted to trade Thomas to the Patriots for a cornerback, where the Saints were hit with injuries in mid-season but couldn't get a deal worked out.

Payton likes to play multiple running backs throughout a game. Chris Ivory showed some promise last season but he must learn to avoid getting hurt and missing playing time.

The Saints still have Reggie Bush, who could still be around if his contract is extended to knock down his 2011 salary- cap hit.

Running back Lynell Hamilton could join the mix. He's a player Payton liked before he got hurt last season.

Suddenly, a Saints running game that was a weakness last season,is looking like a strength.



Veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey signed a one-year contract on Thursday with the Carolina Panthers. Shockey, 30, had drawn interest from the Panthers and Dolphins after being released from the Saints on Feb. 22.

Shockey will give the Panthers a proven pass-catching and blocking tight end. Terms of his contract were not announced, but the oft-injured tight end was due $4.2 million this season, more than the Saints were willing to pay.

Shockey announced the signing on his Twitter feed. Wrote Shockey, "Time for the next chapter. This is a great opportunity for me, and I am excited to play football. Let's hope we all have the chance to play this season."

Shockey has struggled with injuries since his rookie season with the Giants. He missed 10 games during his three seasons with the Saints.

"We were looking for a tight end with the good receiving skills," said Panthers general manager Marty Hurney. "When Jeremy came free, we felt like he fit that description. He plays with a physical style. That's one of the reasons that he has had some injuries. We definitely feel he can bring something to us."

And Pierre Thomas tweets

Pierre Thomas tweeted this response after agreeing to a four-year contract with the Saints: "Glad to be back Whodat fans. Let's get another ring!!."...Longtime kicker John Carney is in talks with the Saints about becoming a full-time coach or consultant, similar to the role he played down the stretch in the Super Bowl season. Carney, who turns 47 next month, said it became clear last season that his opportunities to kick in the NFL were running out after 22 seasons. "I'll be out there several days a week, kicking alongside (punter) Tommy Morstead and (kicker) Garrett Hartley to make sure those guys stay sharp," said Carney...

Bears defensive end Julius Peppers signed a six-year deal worth potentially $91.5 million a year ago and was due a $10.5 roster bonus for next season. The team exercised its right to convert that money into a signing bonus and prorate it over the remaining years on his contract. The Saints probably will try to work out something similar for Reggie Bush, who is due $11.8 million this season...



Ed Staton

Ed Staton is a former sports writer for the Times Picayune and New Orleans States Item.  He also served as the New Orleans Saints Information Director.  He has won 43 media awards in writing, design and photography.  


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