March 18, 2013

Saints Sign Veteran TE Watson, Re-Sign Humber

The Saints have made their second free agent addition of the offseason, with reasonably-priced tight Benjamin Watson, a starter the past three seasons in Cleveland.

The two sides reportedly agreed to a three-year contract on Monday, certainly one that has a minimal 2013 cap hit.

Originally a first round pick of the Patriots in 2004, Watson, 32, 6'3", 255, enters his 10th NFL season with 321 career regular season catches and 28 touchdowns in 88 starts.    Watson had 49 catches for 501 yards and three scores with the Browns and their rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden last season, though that was just four fewer catches off the team lead.

In three career games against the Saints, two with the Patriots and one with the Browns, Watson has a quiet seven catches for 98 yards and no scores.

Watson should be a good compliment to starter and star TE Jimmy Graham for the Saints, competing with TE Michael Higgins to fill the role of versatile David Thomas, who was released by the Saints in February.  Watson was Thomas' teammate in 2008 with the Patriots.

UPDATE: Watson's three year contract is worth $4.95 million with a $1.2 million signing bonus.  With a base salary of $950,000 in 2013, his first year cap hit is $1.35 million.  He will earn base salaries of $1 million and $1.2 million in the next two seasons.

The Saints also re-signed LB Ramon Humber, 25, who has been with the Saints off and on since 2010.  Humber was a free agent the past two offseason and was signed by the Saints in September 2012 when the team virtually ran out of linebackers.

Though he is expected to compete like everyone else in the team's new 3-4 defense, the 5'11", 232 pound Humber actually started three games for the Saints 2011 and played significant time in the Saints' wild card playoff win in the 2011 season.  The native of North Dakota State was a free agent until now.

UPDATE: Humber's base minimum one-year deal will pay him $740,000, though because of the league's veteran minimum rules, he will count only $550,000 against the cap.

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