February 28, 2009

Stinchcomb Re-Signs As Offensive Line Kept Intact

Another veteran starter, another Jon, another new contract.

For the second time in as many days, the Saints struck a new deal with a key veteran free agent that retains continuity in a key position.

On Friday the Saints pulled starting middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma off the open market with a new deal. On Saturday, starting right tackle Jon Stinchcomb, 29, a starter since quietly winning the job in 2006, inked a new five year contract. The deal pulls him off the open market and away from several other interested teams including Seattle.

The Saints and Stinchcomb have been through a lot in their six seasons together so far. A high second round pick out of Georgia in 2003, Stinchcomb rarely saw the field his first two seasons. Then in training camp in 2005, just before his third season was to begin with a possible shot at starting, Stinchcomb tore a patellar knee tendon in a special teams drill, ending his season.

He entered the 2006 offseason as a low-tendered restricted free agent and an afterthought on the offensive line. Coming off that season-ending knee injury, he seized the starting job at right tackle by the preseason opener and has yet to give it up. Including two playoff games, Stinchcomb has started 50 straight games for the Saints and has been a reliable part of one of the most successful offensive lines in NFL history.

After 2006 when Stinchcomb surprisingly emerged as a solid starter, and played well in the NFC Championship game with one functional arm, the Saints gave Stinchcomb a new two-year contract, partly to reward his season and partly to protect the Saints from a flash-in-the-pan right tackle.

Stinchcomb has done everything to indicate that he's the real deal in that two year contract. At 29, Stinchcomb has plenty of tread on the tires left, having six NFL seasons under his belt but extensive playing time in only three seasons.

Stinchcomb was named the 2008 Saints Man of the Year in honor of his off-field charity work.

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