It has been talked about quite a bit for the past month, but it is finally official. The New Orleans Saints have signed veteran center Jonathan Goodwin to a one year deal. The 35-year-old center was part of the Saints 2009 Super Bowl run and spent the last three seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
The signing of Goodwin fills the Saints’ last void at center and will immediately step in as the presumed starter. His previous stint with the Saints has already provided him with a healthy amount of familiarity. Goodwin’s leadership presence along with veterans Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, and Zach Strief has all of a sudden turned the offensive line from a perceived weak spot to a bona fide strength.
Though Goodwin’s experience is welcomed with open arms, him starting day one should not be taken as a forgone conclusion. The coaching staff was high on second year player Tim Lelito as evidenced by their lack of aggression during free agency to resign former starter Brian De La Puente. In addition, they didn’t try to address the need at all in the draft where they had ample opportunity to do so whether it was Marcus Martin in the 2nd round or someone like Bryan Stork later in the draft.
The Saints have never had any problems plugging in young players to start, especially on the offensive line whether it was Jermon Bushrod, Zach Strief, or Terron Armstead. And if one looks back at the center position, the Saints signed Olin Kreutz in 2011. After he decided to quit on the team, De La Puente, a young, untested player at the time, came right in and helped the Saints’ offense break records in 2011.
Despite the Goodwin signing, I don’t think Lelito starting is out of the question if he outperforms the veteran Goodwin in camp and the in the preseason. However, the Goodwin signing does provide nice depth and rounds out a roster that is set to make a Super Bowl run.