March 6, 2009

Fullback Option: Saints Drop Karney for Veteran Evans

Payton's offense demands more versatile Evans

The Saints have signed veteran free agent multipurpose back Heath Evans, 30, to a two year contract. The deal occurred within 24 hours of the release of Mike Karney.

Karney, a fifth round pick in 2004, was released outright by the team on Friday, the day of his wedding. He expressed no sour feelings for the team in public interviews, despite the fact that his release is not about business. Karney's release is certainly about football.

Karney is one of the best in-line blocking fullbacks in the league, a key element of the power running game that follows the tradition the Saints have been going through since 2000. But under Sean Payton, the power running game is no longer the focus of the offense. The team, two weeks into free agency, doesn't even have power running back in the absence of Deuce McAllister.

Part of replacing McAllister is the signing of Evans, 6'0, 250, the nine year veteran out of Auburn University. He spent his first four years as a lead blocker for Shaun Alexander in Seattle when he ran for at least 1175 rushing yards all four seasons. Evans signed in Miami or one season in 2005 but was cut in October and replaced by journeyman Darian Barnes at fullback. With Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams at runningback, Evans may not have been a perfect fit as a primary lead blocker. He was immediately snatched up by the Patriots and has been in New England ever since.

In the Patriots offense Evans was a receiver out of the backfield, the occasional short-yardage back, a punishing lead blocker while also serving as a special teams ace. He looks to serve exactly the same role in New Orleans, if not a more prominent role in the backfield.

Evans signed a two year contract.

The Saints cut Karney the next day with two years remaining on his contract.

NOPF News Archive