After spending four months on the open market, veteran center Jerry Fontenot has agreed to return to the Saints. According to the Times-Picayune, Fontenot will sign a one-year, base salary contract over the weekend and rejoin the team in practice on Monday.
A three-year offer from the Jacksonville Jaguars and interest from the Cowboys, who have a pair of youngsters at center, were not worth uprooting his family from their New Orleans home. Fontenot also feels that New Orleans presents his best chance to finish his career with a Super Bowl appearance.
Fontenot has been a starter for the Saints since 1997, and has been in the league since 1989 when he was drafted in the third round by the Chicago Bears. Signed by Mike Ditka, Fontenot has started 68 games in his five seasons so far with the Saints, including every game since 1998.
The 13 year veteran, who will be 37 in November, has been a dependable anchor for the Saints. Listed at an optimistic 6'3, 300 pounds, Fontenot isn't the biggest center but makes up with uncoachable veteran instincts. An invaluable member of the line, Fontenot is only one of two members of the team who have been with the Saints since before the Jim Haslett era. DE Willie Whitehead joined the team as an undrafted rookie in 1999. The Saints removed two other Ditka-era players this offseason in Kyle Turley and Sammy Knight.
With Fontenot on board, the Saints can keep some consistency on the offensive line from 2002. Kendyl Jacox and LeCharles Bentley will remain at guards with Spencer Folau, Victor Riley, and rookie Jon Stinchcomb competing for the right tackle position across from Wayne Gandy, the newcomer who is firmly entrenched at left tackle.
K John Carney, born in 1964, is the oldest member of the Saints, edging Fontenot by over two years.