May 14, 2002

Saints Don't Miss a Beat, Sign Center Miller

The Saints didn't miss a beat in the post-Mueller era, going out and signing a top free agent interior offensive lineman in ex-Eagles center Bubba Miller.  The Saints and Miller, 6-1, 305, agreed to a one-year contract of a base minimum $650,000, of which only $450,000 counts against the salary cap.  Also reportedly inherent in the contract is a clause which requires the Saints to extend the contract if Miller becomes a starter this season.

Miller, seven years younger than the Saints' current starter at center Jerry Fontenot, is coming off of a serious ankle injury suffered in the final preseason game of 2001 against the New York Jets.

Miller was a close friend and a tight co-worker with Eagles star QB Donovan McNabb and the heart of the Eagles offensive line when he went down.  Miller could have returned to play late in the season, but the Eagles placed him on injured reserve after the injury.  Miller was also recovering from previous ankle and knee injuries at the time.

Before emerging from underneath veteran center Steve Everitt to start in 2000, Miller played some as a reserve and was a valuable commodity on the interior of the offensive line for the Eagles.  In 1998, Miller actually saw some time at tight end, lining up as an extra blocker in multiple tight end formations, even catching one pass for 11 yards.  He also officially started one game at tight end for the Eagles who at the time had been struck by injuries at the position.  In 1997 Miller started three games at left guard for the injured Joe Panos.

Miller was originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 1996.  In high school Miller was the heavyweight wrestling champion with an undefeated record as a senior.  Miller's real name is Stephen DeJuan Miller.

Miller started all 16 games in 2000 and played in all but six games for the first three years of his career, starting seven.  He understudied behind Steve Everitt but immediately emerged as a starter and a leader after his release before the 2000 season.  

Going into his sixth season in the NFL, Miller could compete for the Saints' starting job at center, if he can fully recover from his ankle injury.  Jerry Fontenot is a leader on the line and makes all the blocking calls, so Miller will likely serve as Fontenot's backup.  Second-round draft pick LeCharles Bentley out of Ohio State appears to be headed towards starting at right guard.

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