Saints sign OL Olin Kreutz

Published 12:01 am Saturday, August 6, 2011

METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Sean Payton figured the Saints had made a good impression on free agent center Olin Kreutz when he skipped a scheduled flight home to Chicago on Friday morning.

By the afternoon, the 13-year veteran had a one-year contract with New Orleans and was snapping the ball to Drew Brees in practice.

“He looked at this as an opportunity and he left a couple other options on the table that paid a lot more money,” Payton said. “His main interest is finding the right fit and right team and felt real good about what he saw.”

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The move gives New Orleans an accomplished center following the departure of three-year starter Jonathan Goodwin, who agreed to a free-agent deal with San Francisco this week.

Kreutz’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said the deal is worth up to $4 million with incentives.

Kreutz went straight to the locker room after his first practice, telling a Saints public relations official that he wanted to wait a day before talking about his decision.

Bartelstein said by phone that his client thought the Saints were the best fit for him at this point in his career.

“Olin’s made a lot of money playing football and money was not going to be the driving force for him,” Bartelstein said. “He felt like this was really the right spot. … The Saints were limited in what they could do (because of the salary cap), so (Kreutz) had to make a decision and felt this was a great opportunity.”

The 34-year-old Kreutz is a six-time Pro Bowl player entering his 14th NFL season. He began his career with the Bears in 1998 and has started since 1999.

“His experience, his competitiveness — all those things are important and certainly will be important for us,” Payton said. “He’s a tremendous competitor … and he’s been with a team that’s experienced winning.”

Kreutz was the starting center for the 2006 Chicago Bears, which beat Payton’s Saints in the NFC title game before losing to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl.

Before Kreutz’s arrival, Matt Tennant, a 2010 fifth-round draft choice out of Boston College, was working as the first-team center and hoping for a chance to win the starting job.