The Saints have a hole to fill at strong-side linebacker for the first time since 2006.
Linebacker Scott Fujita, who signed with the Saints before the 2006, following Sean Payton and Gary Gibbs from Dallas to New Orleans, has signed a contract in Cleveland with the Browns, who pressed upon him a superior contract offer.
Fujita's deal is three years, $14 million in total, more than half of which is guaranteed.
It's not huge money, but apparently more money than the Saints were willing to pay for a 31-year old linebacker, even if he was one of the cogs in the great machine that churned out a Super Bowl win for the Saints in 2009.
Fujita stars for the Saints in NFL Films' Super Bowl coverage, as the Saints' towering #55 wore a microphone for the league. One of the nicest characters came to New Orleans in 2006 at the end of an unimpressive showing for himself in Dallas. He started at strongside linebacker ever since.
He leaves New Orleans in 2010 as the father of twins, a Super Bowl ring, and with a Mike McKenzie-given nickname, "The Asian Assassin."
He was the first player to sign with New Orleans in the new Payton administration. He made his first start for the Saints in 2006 against Cleveland, where the Saints won 19-14. Fujita collected an interception in that game.
Fujita will join the Browns' 3-4 defense, likely as an inside linebacker, a move that could extend his career some as his range decreases with age.
The Browns will play in New Orleans in 2010, when Fujita will return to his adopted city. What will he miss most?
Top 10 Things Fujita will miss about New Orleans:
1. Rock-n-Sake in the warehouse district. Good luck getting good sushi in Cleveland, Scott. Great Lakes tuna doesn't look like Gulf tuna, its not even the same color.
2. For that matter, any of the five restaurants on Scott's website's top restaurants list, which lists Rock-n-Sake plus Jacques-imo’s, Cochon, Emeril’s, and Mr. John’s.
3. Beignets and the French Quarter.
4. The 4-3 defense.
5. The Fujita family loves Disney movies. How many have been about the cultural richness of Cleveland?
6. The air quality in New Orleans. Hey, it ain't great, but it isn't 10th worst in the country.
7. The Mississippi River could kick the Cuyahoga's ass any day. That isn't a thing Scott will miss, just a fact.
8. The happy, hospitable, warm people of New Orleans. That good southern temperament wouldn't ever put the Crescent City on this list of the most miserable cities, where Cleveland is tops.
9. The Cleveland Botanical Garden had a "New Orleans Jazz" exhibit. Do you think the New Orleans Botanical Garden will ever have a Cleveland music scene exhibit? No.
10. Gregg Williams.