Cam Jordan’s living the life these days.
The Saints’ fourth-year defensive end is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance and is acknowledged as one of the league’s rising stars.
The team obviously thinks enough of him that they’ve picked up his option through 2015, meaning he’ll earn $6.9 million in base salary for that season, up from $1.4 million, without having to hit the free agent market.
He’s finally working with the same defensive coordinator for the first time since 2009, his junior season at Cal.
And he’s back in New Orleans for the first week of voluntary offseason workouts, which, for Jordan on Thursday, included a visit to Morris Jeff Community School in New Orleans.
Ostensibly, the appearance was to promote a reading program. But, as so often happens when Jordan makes his frequent visits to schools, the subjects and activities can stray away from the stated purpose.
Thursday’s included a dance-off with a teacher, much to the delight of the youngsters.
“I’m just trying to stay young,” said Jordan, who wore his Pro Bowl jersey instead of his regular Saints one. “I’m actually here to drain the energy from the kids.”
But Jordan, who won’t turn 25 until July 10, actually finds himself as somewhat of a senior citizen on the Saints.
With the exits of Will Smith, Jonathan Vilma, Roman Harper, Malcolm Jenkins and Jabari Greer, Jordan is now fourth in seniority among Saints’ defensive players in terms of time with the team. And the other three – Patrick Robinson, Junior Gallette and Ramon Humber, all came aboard in 2010, just one year before the Saints made Jordan a first-round draft pick.
“I can’t be that old,” Jordan said. “But in the D-line room it’s apparent. We’ve got a lot of new faces.”
Plus, given his place of prominence on the team — he was the Saints’ only Pro Bowler from a unit that ranked fourth in the league — and the loss of the last veterans from the Super Bowl season, Jordan realizes he will be counted on to take more of a leadership role.
“Last year, I just focused on being part of the D-line and getting the D-line better,” he said. “If you want to call that being a leader, OK, but I’m just worried about the position I can affect and the position I can have an effect upon.
“I don’t know if it’s within my personality to be a cheerleader, but it’s something I’m aware I can be. I’m pretty easy and laid back, but at the same time with the energy and work ethic that I give, you can see it headed that way.”
Certainly there was no doubting Jordan’s improvement on the field last year. He led the team with 12 ½ sacks with 2 ½ more in the playoffs.
That was a major contribution towards the historic improvement of the Saints defense, which had given up a league record in yardage in 2012.
Going into a second season under Rob Ryan, Jordan said the Saints weren’t though.
“Rob came in and found a perfect fit for everybody,” he said. “In the first year, you can go only so far deep.
“Now we have him at the beginning of the offseason again and there’s some stuff you already know and some stuff you’ve been thinking about the whole offseason.
“We can go on and do better, or at least that’s what I’m hoping for.”
As for himself, Jordan is looking to cement his place among the NFL’s best at his position.
He’s said he’s been fortunate with injuries – having not missed a game in his first three seasons.
With luck, he’d love to match the career of his father, six-time Pro Bowl tight end Steve Jordan, who played for 13 seasons.
“My goal is to be a great player and to be a great player for as many years as I can be,” he said. “I don’t have a limit, but I’m not going to ride the bus until the wheels fall off, either.
“Being the Pro Bowl was definitely a motivation to seeing what I can do.”
First though, for Jordan, is the season ahead.
He’s glad that, like last year, the Saints are opening with Atlanta. Last year’s 23-17 victory set the tone not only the Saints’ season, but for the Falcons, who would finish 4-12 after having won the division in 2012.
“That’s cool,” he said. “We can start off with that road game, get that road game win go on from there.”
Hopefully, Jordan added, that means ending the season in Super Bowl XLIX being played in Glendale, Arizona, near his home town of Chandler.
“What’s important for me is to get my team in position to be a Super Bowl team,” he said. “I anticipate us being in Arizona in February.
“We’ve still got some guys on this team with rings. I’m sort ot jealous.”