March 1, 2011

Hartley set long-term in New Orleans

After years of using a platoon or two-footed approach to their kicking situation, the Saints have gone long term with the hero of their 2009 Super Bowl XLIV run.

K Garrett Hartley has received and signed a new five year contract from the Saints, according to various online reports, and will sign it before Friday's league year deadline.

Last season, the Saints deactivated Hartley and used free agent signee veteran K John Carney for two games in October after Hartley missed a potential game-winning attempt in overtime against Atlanta.  He reclaimed the job two games later.

In 2009, Hartley was suspended for the first four games of the Saints after testing positive for a banned stimulant he says was used for long drives to and from the Saints facility.  Carney then too handled the kicking job until Hartley ascended to the starting role in December, kicking the Saints through the final five games of the season and their three playoff victories.

In 2008, the Saints gave up on veteran Martin Gramatica and drafted rookie Taylor Melhaff before handing the job to Hartley in the second half of the season and finding surprising stability there.  The job was Hartley's to own going into 2009 before the suspension opened the door for Carney.

Hartley was set to become a free agent this offseason, pending labor peace, and was reportedly to be given a qualifying restricted free agency tender offer before the March 4 deadline.

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