With both starting cornerbacks hobbled, one with a groin injury and another out 4-6 weeks with an MCL strain, the Saints have reached into the free agent pool and pulled out an accomplished veteran. Former Raven Chris McAlister will join the team.
McAlister, 32, 6'1, 200, was a first round pick of the Ravens out of Arizona in 1999. He played 10 seasons in Baltimore, part of an at-times dominant defense of historic proportion. He won a Super Bowl with the Ravens, made the Pro Bowl three times and in 2003 was an All-Pro. McAlister has 26 career interceptions.
McAlister was released by the Ravens in February. He was linked to signing with the Raiders in September but the contract never came to be.
He had played in only 14 games in 2007 and 2008 because of knee problems. The Saints are obviously satisfied that McAlister has fully rehabbed from knee surgery in November 2008. McAlister spent weeks last season getting evaluations done on various knee problems including a torn PCL, and was benched a month before finally deciding to undergo season-ending surgery.
On October 12, Indianapolis WR Marvin Harrison scorched McAlister for two touchdowns in a 31-3 Colts victory over the Ravens. McAlister was benched after the game, not for performance but for blatantly violating the team dress code.
On September 2002, McAlister set the then-record for the longest play, returning a missed field goal 107 yards for a touchdown. In 2004, McAlister signed a seven-year, $55 million contract with around $18 million in guaranteed money.
There was some speculation that the Saints would go after free agent Mike McKenzie, the former Saint who was released in March of this past offseason.
The Saints signed McAlister after an in-person workout at the Saints' facility. Also working out for team scouts today was younger brother of WR Lance Moore, rookie free agent Nick, who is also a wide receiver.
Rookie CB Malcolm Jenkins may make his first career start in Tampa Bay this Sunday across from Randall Gay, should starter Jabari Greer not be able to return to action. The Saints also have veteran journeyman Leigh Torrance on the depth chart.
To make room on the 53-man roster, the Saints cut QB Chase Daniel. Daniel was bounced on and off the roster earlier in the season. With all the injuries mounting - the Saints had three each of healthy wide receivers and cornerbacks by the end of the game in St. Louis - its hard to imagine the Saints keeping a luxury like Daniel around on game day.