April 10, 2002

Saints Sign Top Free Agent Receiver

WR Jerome Pathon turned down two of the NFL's top young quarterbacks and their teams Wednesday night to sign with Aaron Brooks and the New Orleans Saints.

Pathon received big offers from the Colts and Vikings, (Peyton Manning and Daunte Culpepper, respectively) but instead took a four-year, $10 million contract from the Saints. The contract includes a $1 million signing bonus and a relatively moderate $525,000 base salary in the first year.

After Pathon's first season as a Saint, the team has the option to pick up a $2.5 million option and the fourth year of the contract. That provision provides the Saints with a little security. Pathon, while a big, fast young receiver, has had some injury problems since being a second round pick in the 1998 draft.

The Saints were not expected to sign a receiver before the NFL Draft, but with the addition of Pathon the team gives themselves more flexibility with their two first round selections.

At 6'0, 182 pounds, 25 year-old Pathon is an athletic and speedy receiver who should start right away across from Joe Horn. Born in South Africa and raised in Canada, the University of Washington graduate started his first game as a rookie for the Colts and had 50 catches for 511 yards and a touchdown in 1998.

Pathon missed out on most of his 1999 season, some of the 2000 season and almost all of last season with different injuries. Pathon appeared in only four games for the Colts in 2001, catching 24 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns, including a nine-catch, 168-yard, one-touchdown performance against Buffalo in Week 2.

Pathon has only recent begun running after surgery on his foot because of his most recent injury, where he suffered ligament and bone damage from a foot sprain. He is expected to be at full strength for training camp.

He had surgery and was forced to wait until March before screws could be removed. Pathon was injured on September 30, 2001 against the Patriots but returned in November (against the Dolphins, two catches for 12 yards). He aggravated the injury in practice the next week, before the Colts played the Saints. After his setback the Colts were forced to put Pathon on injured reserve, ending a season that started off as the best in Pathon's career. In fact, before the injury, Pathon was having a breakout season start and leading the team in receiving. He had a firm grip on the #2 starting job across from WR Marvin Harrison.

Pathon was one of the hottest receivers on the market, drawing interest from many teams including the Rams, Texans, Vikings, Chiefs, and Falcons.

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