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Thursday, 15 March 2012 09:49
New Orleans Saints Sign Ben Grubb Replacing Nicks; Talking Brees, Meachem, David Hawthorne

The New Orleans Saints knew they were going to lose All-Pro guard Carl Nicks and they planned to replace him with another All-Pro guard, Ben Grubbs, which they did today.  They signed him to five-year, $36 million deal,  including $10 million signing bonus says Adam  Schefter of ESPN.

drew brees jvlastnews thumbSaints quarterback Drew Brees said he hopes not to miss any work with the Saints and made it clear that he is uncomfortable working under the franchise tag.

Brees spoke to the AP by phone from San Diego. He is conducting interviews this week as part of his promotional work with Dick's Sporting Goods. He was interviewed on the "Mike and Mike Show" and the "Dan Patrick Show," drawing national interest.

"I'd say that this is a very critical period here over the next few weeks until we start April 16th. Brees as an  unsigned franchise tag player doesn't have to participate in off season workouts or training camp. "What I'm really focused on is continuing to negotiate toward a longterm contract and I am not going to too far down the road other than what's right in front of me. I want to make sure that this is done right."

Brees has turned down a Saints offer to pay him what Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are making because he wants a lot of the money up front. He doesn't want to be involved in a situation like Manning had with the Colts. Manning was released and the Colts didn't pay him the $28 million owed him.

Bress noted that he was a franchise tag player with the Chargers in 2005 and that season ended with a career threatening injury to his throwing shoulder that left him with few suitors (Dolphins and Saints) in free agency.

"I had a 25 per cent chance of every playing again," said the quarterback.

The Dolphins turned him down and the Saints gambled and signed him to be their quarterback.

Brees, 33, said he wants to end his career in New Orleans, albeit under a contractual agreement that he sees fit. However, Brees declined to answer directly whether he would practice or play if a new extension is not completed by the time next season.

Brees could sit out next season and be3come a free agent the next season when  he could sign with another team.

Former Saints guard Carl Nicks told the Tampa Tribune the chance to be in  a run-oriented offense was one of the points that sold him on signing with the Buccaneers No doubt, the five-year, $47.5 million contract had something to with it.

"The run game, man," said the 6-foot-5, 340-pound guard, now the highest-paid interior lineman in the NFL. "No disrespect to the Saints, but we were pass first, pass second, pass third, pass fourth, fifth and six team and maybe play some runs at the end.

"The Saints have great running backs, but in Tampa Bay it's a little different. We've got a big bruiser in LeGarrette Blount. We're going to pounds the ball, pound the ball and go over the top."

Nicks said he had no qualms about leaving the Saints where and Jahri Evans were considered the best guard tandem in the NFL.

Nicks said he and the Bucs right guard Davin Joseph together are going to be just as good, if not better, than he and Evans were. "We're both physical and we both like to maul people," said Nicks.

ESPN Stats and Information supports that Nicks will help the Bucs running game. Last season, the Saints averaged 6.6 yards per carry when running the left behind  Nicks. That was the second-best average in  the NFL. When running to the left last season, the Bucs averaged 3.0 yards per carry, the worst figure in the league by more than  a yard.

Nicks said the expected disciplinary actions by the NFL against the Saints for their bounty program were not at all a factor in his decision to leave the Saints.

The Chargers are paying former Saints receivere Robert Meachem like a top-15  receiver in the NFL and they expect him to play like one.

"He's a No. 1 receiver," coach Norv Turner told on Wednesday. "He's guy that has big-play ability. He can be a complete receiver."

"I think he's guy that will get really excited about the system, what we do, and get excited about having Philip Rivers throwing to him," said Turner. "I see him as a guy that can really improve i  a short period of time. "Meacham's strength with the Saints was his ability to get vertical in a hurry. He runs the 40-yhard dash in a sub-4.4 time. But the Chargers will need him to do more than  be a straight-line speedster.

They're paying him $23.9 million over four seasons to be Rivers' go-to wideout.

The Saints knew they were going to lose All-Pro guard Carl Nicks and they plan  to replace him with another All-Pro guard, Ben Grubbs.

The two-time Pro Bowler for the Ravens arrived on Wednesday to meet and dine with the coaches and executives. Nicks was a physical mauler while Grubbs relies on athleticism.

The Saints will host linebacker David Hawthorne, a free agent at Seattle, for a free agent visit on Friday. Linebacker Joe Mays of the Broncos will also visit.

The Saints are weighing the release of middle linebacker Jon Vilma because of declining production and a $5.4 milion base salary and a $100,000 offseason workout bonus.

Hawthorne is a thumper on the inside and the  Saints vision him at middle linebacker. That could cost Vilma his roster spot.

SOME hither:

Saints RB Darren Sproles to WR Robert Meachem on signing with the Chargers, his former team: "You are going to have fun. You're not going to be on the field that long, but you are going to get done what you have to get done."...

President Obama's Final Four pick: North Carolina over Kentucky...My pick: Michigan State over Syracuse...Peyton Manning sweepstakes: Manning has been visiting with different teams and he reportedly has narrowed his list of potential suitors to Broncos, Titans, Cardinals and Dolphins. The Broncos and Cardinals are his top choices so far...Despite the bounty scandal, seldom did a Saints-inflicted injury force an opponent to leave the field.

The City Park North golf course has specials this time of year. Green fees (includes cart) been dropped to $35 to  $20-$17, depending on the tee time. Call 800-504-05677 to set your tee time and get info on the specials...

by Ed Staton and Bayoubuzz staff

New Orleans Saints: Pay Drew Brees, Pay The Man

(Visit Louisiana Sports for a sale ending soon on Saints, LSU merchandise)

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