UPDATE: Former Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton, who is an unrestricted free agent, went out to dinner on Sunday night with New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and linebackers coach Joe Vitt.
He is meeting and talking some football with the Saints today.
Lofton’s visit with the Saints was pushed back until they finished meeting with former Seattle linebacker David Hawthorne on Saturday and early on Sunday.
Previous post below.
Former Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who is an unrestricted free agent, is set to visit the New Orleans Saints, Lofton’s representatives confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
He also has an offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
WSB-TV Zach Klein reported the moves per a league source.
Lofton, the team’s leading tackler over the past four season, was drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft. He had 577 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and seven forced fumbles.
The Falcons will attempt to replace Lofton with Lofa Tatupu, 29, a three-time Pro Bowler who did not play last season. Also, Akeem Dent will get a chance to win playing time.
The Falcons worked out Tatupu last Friday and reached an agreement on Saturday. The former Seattle linebacker did not play last season because of injury problems.
The move to sign Tatupu opens the door for Lofton to leave the team.
The Falcons could use Dent in running situations and Tatupu on third downs. The Falcons were ranked 29th in the league in third-down defense last season. Tatupu has 10 career interceptions and is considered solid in pass coverage.
Tatupu has a history of knee and concussion problems. He did not play in the league last season reportedly because of his knee problems. He also had visits with the Saints and the Titans.
In 2009, he missed 11 games with a torn pectoral muscle.
Tatupu, played USC, and was a second round pick (45th overall) in 2005.
Tatupu has amassed 550 tackles with seven forced fumbles.
Tatupu had a DUI arrest in 2008, but despite that arrest, he does not carry a ‘bad guy’ reputation. He was a popular leader during his Seattle’s days.
The market for free agent linebackers shifted heavily this offseason.
San Francisco signed linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a six-year, $44.5 million contract with $17.5 million of it guaranteed, his agent Greg Williams told the Associated Press.
The market was when the Browns have signed linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to a five-year contract worth $42.5 million. A total of $19 million is guaranteed.
So now, here are the top five contracts for inside linebackers:
1. Patrick Willis, San Francisco: seven years, $53.51 million, $29 million guaranteed.
2. Jon Beason, Carolina: six years, $51.3 million, $25 million guaranteed.
3. Jerod Mayo, New England: seven years,$49.85 million, $25 million guaranteed.
4. D’Qwell Jackson, Cleveland: five years, $ 42.5 million, $19.5 million guaranteed.
5. David Harris, New York Jets: four years, $36 million, $29.5 million guaranteed.
The Falcons held talks with Lofton’s representatives at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. The talks were termed as amicable, but the team has elected to move in another direction.
Lofton has played 95, 95 and 99 percent of the defensive snaps over the last three years.
The Saints could be facing some player suspension over their bounty gate. Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma was on the players mentioned as a central figure in the scheme that was orchestrated by then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog