UPDATE: Curtis Lofton agrees to 5-year deal with Saints

Chicago Bears running back Kahlil Bell (32) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards, right, and linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. The Bears won 30-12. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Chicago Bears running back Kahlil Bell (32) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards, right, and linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) the second half of an NFL football game in Chicago, Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011. The Bears won 30-12. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

UPDATE: Former Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, a second round draft pick in 2008, agreed to a five-year contract with the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night.

“Curtis is a versatile, hard-working player that has displayed a knack for being around the football, and more importantly, making plays on the ball,” New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement released by the team. “He has the ability to play all three linebacker positions and we feel that he’s just entering the prime of his career. We think he can come to New Orleans and fit in well and provide us with a significant contribution to our defense.”

PREVIOUS POST: The curious case of Curtis Lofton’s free agency

With Detroit re-signing Stephen Tulloch to a five-year contract, former Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton is the biggest named linebacker still out on the free agency market.

He lost one possible suitor when the Philadelphia Eagles traded for DeMeco Ryans.

Also, former Seattle linebacker David Hawthorne has not signed.

Both Hawthorne and Lofton visited the New Orleans Saints over the weekend. Lofton also has an offer from Tampa Bay.

Lofton 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 met with the coaches on Monday to talk a little football.

Hawthorne met with the Saints on Saturday and early Sunday.

The linebacker market was set early in free agency when San Francisco signed linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a six-year, $44.5 million contract with $17.5 million of it guaranteed and Cleveland signed linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to a five-year contract worth $42.5 million. A total of $19 million is guaranteed.

The numbers are not in on Tulloch’s deal, but there’s some speculation that he landed in Jackson’s neighborhood.

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. Those talks were termed as amicable, but the team elected to move in another direction.

Lofton has played 95, 95 and 99 percent of the defensive snaps over the last three years. Lofton, the team’s leading tackler over the past four seasons, was drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft. He had 577 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

As things stand, 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 continue to talk to Lofton’s camp and have described those talks as productive.

It’s possible that Lofton may have priced himself out of the market and may have to return to the Falcons for a year and then take another shot at free agency next offseason because most of the money is drying up.

Here’s an interesting film review by Adam Caplan and Greg Cosell on the Philadelphia Eagles website of Tulloch, Jo-Lonn Dunbar (Matt Ryan’s college roomie), Hawthorne, Lofton and Wesley Woodyard (of LaGrange). (Fast forward to 4:56 if you just need the Lofton critique.)

Here’s what Cosell had to say about Lofton:

“I think he’s a guy who does everything well and nothing spectacular,” Cosell said. “But he’s their middle linebacker. He’s very solid, consistent player week after week, snap after snap.”

That’s a problem. If teams are paying you $8 million per year that want more than steady play. They want to see those spectacular plays that Cosell doesn’t see.

“I think Lofton is a complete player, just not a spectacular player,” Cosell said.

Maybe Lofton will have to re-adjust his expectations much like defensive end John Abraham did. He was looking for something in the $12 million per year range before settling for a three-year deal that averages $7 million.

For most of his first four seasons, Lofton was considered one of the cornerstones of the defense. Clearly, something has changed.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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259 comments Add your comment

dirty rob

March 21st, 2012
1:25 pm

all about spooooonnn

CONservative Johnson

March 21st, 2012
1:25 pm

Hammer dropped. Do you really want to be in that mess, Lofton?

Richie

March 21st, 2012
1:26 pm

What does he do now that the saints hits have been laid down

mark

March 21st, 2012
1:26 pm

Matt

March 21st, 2012
1:27 pm

interesting. hopefully, a year off will allow Tatupu to have a year closer to his earlier years and not his later ones. At 29 though, he’s should have some gas in the tank. I really like Lofton, but we’re cap-strapped as it is. I’d definitely like to see him come back and maybe Tatupu could be more of 3rd down LB. Regardless, I’m more than a little worried about this upcoming season. Tampa have bought up every available FA it seems, Carolina will continue to improve and the Saints are still a great team even with their coach suspended all year… but hopefully, that’ll bite them on the backside big time.

Let’s go Birds!

First?

mark

March 21st, 2012
1:28 pm

Looks like the Bucs can lower ther asking price for CL now with the Saints probably out….

Flip89

March 21st, 2012
1:29 pm

I know this has nothing to do with this article but Roger Goodell just Bitch slapped the Saints.

dbird1

March 21st, 2012
1:30 pm

has anyone “Seen” Sean Payton. nope. check next year.HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA.

Old Squid

March 21st, 2012
1:30 pm

Losing Lofton isn’t that big of a deal but we still need pass rush help and offensive line help.
Finding guys for those spots in the draft is fine but not likely to provide the immediate help we need.
Here’s hoping they aren’t finished with free agents yet.

dbird1

March 21st, 2012
1:31 pm

hey heirmsaint. enjoy.

dbird1

March 21st, 2012
1:31 pm

Enter your comments here

Fan

March 21st, 2012
1:36 pm

Lofton will be right back in Atlanta guys. He has nowhere too go like Snelling last year. Lofton thought too much of self and he did not look at himself on tape much. I think Lofton is a complete player, just not a spectacular player,” Cosell said. This is a fact.. I think he is worth 3.2 million per season. The Saints are done and Tampa is probably done waiting. Atlanta is his only option. Lofton FIRE YOUR AGENT AND LOOK AT YOURSELF AND DROP YOUR PRICE TAG. NO ONE WILL PAY YOU 4MILLION OR MORE PER YEAR

SawThat1nce

March 21st, 2012
1:38 pm

reports out of New Orleans, Sean Payton has applied for a bag-boy at the Piggly Wiggly.

SawThat1nce

March 21st, 2012
1:39 pm

I meant a bagboy position at the PigglyWiggly.

Rell

March 21st, 2012
1:41 pm

Lofton had someone in his ear telling him he was worth more than he is. I’ve always said he was solid, but he doesn’t make big plays.

Chucktown38

March 21st, 2012
1:45 pm

Hey has anyone seen Saint fan ANYWHERE!!?

Chucktown38

March 21st, 2012
1:48 pm

Saints fans are like Cowgirl fans, when things are not good they crawl back into there holes until things are good.

SawThat1nce

March 21st, 2012
1:52 pm

Suspension of Payton for 1 yr. was adequate.
Suspension of Williams indenitely, should be changed to permanet suspension, as in kicked out of the league forever.
Loomis the GM should have gotten at least one year.
Saints should have lost their 1st round picks for the next 4 yrs.
The organization should have been fined $5 million.
The saints should of had their salary cap lowered by $20 million.
Payton and Loomis should have been fined $1 million each, before they are allowed to return.
Goodel should fine himself $1million, for allowing the saints to play so dirty for all these years, since Payton started running the team.

I hope that Goodel will have enough cahoonies, to not back off of any of these penalties that he has administered against the DIRTY SAINTS.

SawThat1nce

March 21st, 2012
1:54 pm

Please do not call out the idiotic, delusional saints fans.

BigTimeTECHFan

March 21st, 2012
1:57 pm

Here’s what Cosell had to say about Lofton:

“I think he’s a guy who does everything well and nothing spectacular,” Cosell said. “But he’s their middle linebacker. He’s very solid, consistent player week after week, snap after snap.”

That’s a problem. If teams are paying you $8 million per year that want more than steady play. They want to see those spectacular plays that Cosell doesn’t see.

“I think Lofton is a complete player, just not a spectacular player,” Cosell said.

That’s perfect analyst of Lofton, why I said all along there are 20 plus LB’s in the draft that could do what Lofton does, yet there still a chance those players may have something special.
I don’t think he any better than Dent other than the experiences he has from playing all the downs he has.

Bushido Budda

March 21st, 2012
2:02 pm

Chucktown…you have room to talk….talk about Falcon fans staying positive and commited. Why was the Georgia Dome practically empty before halftime against the Packers two years ago? I get over hundreds of tv sets were turned off or their channels were switched by the third quarter against New York. There is your loyality.

Bushido Budda

March 21st, 2012
2:05 pm

SawtheIce….it’s sad when a Falcons fans (like numerous ones) want the Saints to receive worse penalties..it’s sad when your team can’t beat the Saints on a regular basis on it’s own….SO SAD to have to rely on the NFL commissioner….oh yeah, I guess you haven’t forgotte the last time the Saints and Falcons played; a butt whipping in the making on National tv and the qb breaking the record against your team..WELL???

Sly Ty

March 21st, 2012
2:08 pm

DOL, I know this post is supposed to be about Curtis Lofton, but I just saw what happened with the Saints and bounty gate. I am a die hard, yet sensible Atlanta Falcon fan. I believe the Saints were given an overly harsh punishment…They will be without their Head Coach for an entire year….that was a bit much!!!!

Jeff B

March 21st, 2012
2:09 pm

“He was looking for something in the $12 million per year range before settling for a three-year deal that averages $7 million.”

His contract is for much less than that, according to the numbers that ESPN has provided. Check Pat Y’s blog.

jay

March 21st, 2012
2:09 pm

I’ve yet to hear the Falcons say they are out of the CL market. I’m sure their offer is still on the table. They just weren’t willing to overpay.

jay

March 21st, 2012
2:12 pm

@JeffB, I think it would average out to 7 mill per if he hits the escalators. The base salary and normal roster bonuses are less than the 7 mill per.

neo

March 21st, 2012
2:16 pm

@budda.thats all you could come up with? really?

GT Alum

March 21st, 2012
2:19 pm

Players almost always want to get as much money as possible, and I would imagine most of them have a hard time assessing themselves objectively. Lofton’s problem is he was getting bad advice. He needs to figure out if his agent is working on his behalf or is just trying to maximize his commission.

D Money

March 21st, 2012
2:24 pm

@budda…you’re talking about the same QB that you could possibly loose in this mess. I would have to think long and hard if I was Brees about going back to that mess.

Sid

March 21st, 2012
2:25 pm

dbird1

March 21st, 2012
1:31 pm
hey heirmsaint. enjoy.

******************************************************

You’re not rubbing it in deep enough.

On another note, ain’t it great, Saints are gonna pull up on the bottom rung of the NFC South ladder with no chance (as in zero, nada, 零, zéro, μηδέν, null, ゼロ) of going to the big dance Feb 3rd, 2013 in the Superdome.

The Saints bloggers and many of their fans deserve this fate. All along you could have been on the blogs and intelligently (well, maybe) discussed football and a real rivalry. But you weren’t on OUR blog to do that. Classless Peeshwanks got exactly what you deserved. Waller in that.

Sly Ty

March 21st, 2012
2:35 pm

Sid, You have to agree that this punishment is excessive. No one dislikes the Saints as much as I do now, but Sean Payton will be lossing 8 million dollars in salary if this ruling holds. Goodell wasn’t BSing when he said he would hold people in management positions to a higher standard.

ronhen24

March 21st, 2012
2:43 pm

Bushido Budda,
We are not relying on the commissioner for what the Saints did to themselves. The Falcons did not have anything to do with your dirty tactics. I am quite sure if the Falcons would have paid players to intentionally get rid of opposing players, we would have a superbowl and beat the Saints twice a year as well. We have a clean cut, play hard and win fair image in the ATL. What I mean about clean cut is the way Dunta Robinson knock the FIRE out of Desean Jackson. He got fined, but all of the commentators and fans around the world deemed it to be a CLEAN hit. You can eat someone else lunch with out paying for it. Besides, I thought a SAINT is suppose to be a holy person. They are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness. What is so holy about trying to hurt someone? Take that back to the Bayou, because you are going to need the HIGH PRIEST to win this season. SEE YA!

So you and

Treeofwoe

March 21st, 2012
2:46 pm

Smacking down management who should know better and be held accountable after ignoring a cease and desist order (for three YEARS I might add) concerning injuring other teams players is not excessive.

History Revised

March 21st, 2012
2:51 pm

Blah, Blah, Blah…Drew Brees is still better than Ryan, Their receivers are still better than yours, and you STILL will not be able to get that 4th and 1….. ( Oh yeah…there is that that whole Super Bowl winner thing……) Saints will be 2-0 vs the falcons AGAIN this year……LOLOLOLOL

Treeofwoe

March 21st, 2012
2:52 pm

@ Bushido Boodat – Glee at comeupance over dirtly play, ignorning NFL rules and direct orders to desist such activity, interferring with and lying to investigators should not be confused with realistic expectations of on-field performance by either team. In fact I would say that today’s announcements won’t affect the Saint’s gameplay very much so no one’s counting their chickens just yet. Defensive player suspensions yet to be announced added to an already so-so defense will affect the Saint’s on-field performance which I will also watch with enjoyment. I would however love the Falcons to beat you guys straight up without handicaps regardless of current circumstances.

Chub Rock

March 21st, 2012
2:53 pm

Bushido Budda- What is really sad is given the turmoil the Saints organization is going through right now you are in a Falcons blog site talking about who won a game last season or what Falcon fans are showing up to games last season. ROTFLMFAO! What is wrong with you dude? Why are you even here? No one wants you here, we don’t care how you feel or what your opinion is on anything. Take your a$$ back to the 9th ward, create your own Saints blog site and talk to people who care about what you have to say. Go figure out who is gonna be your head coach when you do play us again. Go figure out if Drew Brees is gonna want to even play for a team of such low class and in such deep $#!T. Go figure out which and how many of your players are gonna get suspended this year. Go figure out what your team is gonna do without a 1st and a 2nd this year and no 2nd RD draft pick next year. You’ve got an awful lot of stuff you need to get figured out my little cajun friend so stop worrying about last year and start focusing on what has just happened and what’s about to happen to your Saints team. Now go home, your not welcome here.

Treeofwoe

March 21st, 2012
2:56 pm

@ History Revised

I’m a Falcons fan but not a disputer of truth. Brees is at this point in his career a better QB than Ryan….in fact he should be MVP as I think the Saints would have no where near the success they enjoy without him. Gratz on your Super Bowl win three years ago. YOu got there before us. I wouldn’t pre-gloat on 4n1 success or failure just yet. The Saints won’t go 2-0 against us this year.

coachx

March 21st, 2012
2:57 pm

The demand for ILB is dropping……..especially MLB who are only average in pass coverage.

Lofton is a very good run stopper and sure fire tackler but his speed and coverage are ability are only average. I agree he is a very steady player and hope he stays in Atlanta at a fair price.

Just b/c you lead the league in tackles while playing MLB in a 4-3 does not mean your the best MLB in the NFL.

JSS

March 21st, 2012
2:58 pm

Sorry to tell you, but that Saints roster still doesn’t change enough to make the Falcons automatically jump to the top of the division. Everyone in this division (excluding Carolina) is in the same boat. The “same boat” is new coordinators, new key roster positions, and the uncertainty that any of those will make a real difference. Say this for the Saints, they have a former head coach over their defense who had as much success against his new team as anyone. He knows what people will attack against them!

History Revised

March 21st, 2012
2:59 pm

Hey Chubby…the Saints still kick your A**** every time you play…..Thats kinda hard for the fans of a loser franchise to swallow aint it????

Chub Rock

March 21st, 2012
3:10 pm

History Revised- Drew Brees is not even technically a Saint right now so you might wanna take that bag off your chin. He has not signed his franchise tag and is pissed he even got tagged. He has already said he will not sign it nor show up until a contract is signed. He has stated this whole bounty gate deal leaves a black mark on the team. Drew Brees might just jump ship. You don’t have a head coach and you come in here with that “blah blah blah” BS? Just wait because the other shoe has not even dropped yet LOL. Wait till the league drops the punishment on the players LOL. You’ll be lucky to beat the Redskins next season LOL. You got MAJOR problems cajun…MAJOR problems! Your in denial right now LOL. Take a deep breath and get ready for that jaw to really get stretched when Roger Goodell suspends your players. Kiss Vilma bye bye LOL…yep him gone LOL. I must say though in all seriousness…it could not have happened to a more deserving fan base. I truly LOVE IT for you right now. As a show of my absolute glee in your teams demise, I’m gonna cook a big pot of those nasty a$$ red beans and rice to feed to my dogs.

redcoat

March 21st, 2012
3:10 pm

Saints need a name change……..Demons? Devils? ….Legionnaires! That’s it! Hired guns.

KBizzle

March 21st, 2012
3:24 pm

Hey Bushido,

It’s okay to cry for help. Too bad no help is coming though. As a budda, you should know a thing or two about karma.

BamaGuy

March 21st, 2012
3:24 pm

History Revised
March 21st, 2012
2:59 pm

Hey Chubby…the Saints still kick your A**** every time you play…..Thats kinda hard for the fans of a loser franchise to swallow aint it????

Swallowing seems to be the one thing that you probably do know something about….Who Dat? Goodellthat….

AlanFalcon

March 21st, 2012
3:25 pm

Makes you wonder what the Saints (?) players are thinking about now and just think the IRS hasn’t gotten around to them.

Chub Rock

March 21st, 2012
3:26 pm

Saints fans don’t realize it was their own fan base that put paper bags on their heads at Saints HOME games LMAO. You idiots put bags on your heads at your own home games!! YOU came up with the “AINT’s” nickname dummies, not your rivals LMAO. You degraded and belittled your own team to the point that it has become historical LOL. I’ll bet paper bag sales in new orleans go up 50% in the next year. Falcons Fam that might be a good business venture LOL. Paper bags and magic maker sells in new orleans about to go through the roof LOL. Oh and Vicodin sells (or thefts) bout to hit an all time high. sean payton got suspended for a year without pay oh Lord I might have to invest in a pharmaceutical company too LOL!!

JMar

March 21st, 2012
3:32 pm

The “something” that has changed is the defensive coordinator, not Lofton, but I agree with Cosell’s analysis.

History Revised

March 21st, 2012
3:34 pm

Yo can always tell when fans have nothing…They pull out the IRS is gonna get teh mean ole saints….. LOL….If the Cops are gonna get after anyone, then it should be #2…After all he has been stealing money from the Falcons for YEARS!!!!

Chub Rock

March 21st, 2012
3:35 pm

And let’s not even go into the FACT that it was your own former teammates that ratted the Saints organization out to Roger Goodell LOL. Shockey told it all LMAO. Big shout out to one Jeremy Shockey. Falcons fam we owe this day of good news to TE Jeremy Shockey.

Sean got Pay ed a ton

March 21st, 2012
3:36 pm

Who dat dat put a bounty on us. Dey say he Good-all, but me tink hes name shud be Bad-all.