March 2, 2005

McAfee Stays a Saint, Allen Re-signs

Veteran special teams ace, promising linebacker sign one-year deals

Special teams captain Fred McAfee, one of the leaders of this team and a veteran of 14 years in the NFL, has signed a new one-year deal.



Linebacker James Allen, 26, who just finished his third and most productive season as a part-time starter a strongside linebacker, signed a one-year contract. Allen, 6'3, 245, was set to be a restricted free agent but is now off the market.

McAfee, who will be 37 this summer, is a favorite of Jim Haslett and emobidies the definition of special teams ace. McAfee and kick returner Michael Lewis went to the Pro Bowl together in 2002, after making a preseason prediction that they would both go to Hawaii. McAfee's signing is important, as the Saints' other special teams star Steve Gleason hit the free agency market March 2.

Technically a runningback, McAfee hasn't seen a snap on offense since 1998 with the Steelers. But he manages one or two carries each season- all the results of fake punt plays. McAfee had one carry for 53 yards this past season for the Saints.

McAfee started his long career in New Orleans in 1991 but started only five games and scored four touchdowns over three seasons before moving on to Pittsburgh until 1998. In 1999, he had a short stint with the Buccaneers and returned to the Saints in 2000 when Haslett took over. McAfee has signed one-year deals for each of the past five seasons with the Saints.

Allen totaled 33 tackles and two forced fumbles on 10 starts in 2004. Allen has also been a valuable special teams player for the Saints since being drafted out of Oregon State in the third round. Allen and rookies Courtney Watson and Colby Bockwoldt meshed as the Saints' starting linebacker corp after injuries sidelined Orlando Ruff and Derrick Rodgers.

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