METAIRIE - The New Orleans Saints announced Friday night that they have agreed to contract terms with another of their top unrestricted free agents - starting strong safety Roman Harper.
Harper, a six-year veteran, was believed to be one of the Saints’ priorities when teams were allowed to begin negotiating with unrestricted free agents on Tuesday, one day after players approved a new collective bargaining agreement.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Harper, a former standout at the University of Alabama, was a Pro Bowl pick the past two years and is a five-year starter - opening all 67 games he’s played in - since being chosen in the second round of the 2006 draft.
The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that Harper’s deal is for four years and $28 million.
Earlier Friday, the Saints said linebacker Danny Clark and safety Pierson Prioleau, both unrestricted free agents, agreed to terms and will also return to the club.
The Saints also agreed to terms with fullback Korey Hall, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Green Bay Packers last season; defensive end Curtis Johnson; and guard Dan Gay.
Gay, a Lafayette native and St. Thomas More High grad, was a three-year starter at Baylor. The 6-foot-4, 303-pounder spent time on the New York Jets practice squad in 2009.
Those players, as well as former running back/kick returner Darren Sproles, who agreed to a four-year, $14 million contract late Thursday night, cannot take part in any physical activity until the new CBA is ratified by players - which is expected to be Aug. 4.
Saints terminate three
The Saints also terminated the contracts of three veterans - including former Brusly High and LSU standout Randall Gay - coach Sean Payton said after his team’s first training camp practice Friday.
Gay, an eight-year veteran, was actually terminated Thursday although Payton didn’t announce it during his pre-training camp news conference.
Gay, a cornerback, suffered a concussion in the second game of the 2010 season and eventually played in just four games before being put on injured reserve with recurring symptoms of the head injury.
He also missed a 2009 game with a concussion and was to earn $3.5 million in base salary this season in the final year of a four-year deal he signed with the Saints in 2008.
The Saints also terminated the contracts of long snapper Jason Kyle and linebacker Stanley Arnoux after they failed physicals. Kyle had shoulder surgery last fall and Arnoux was coming off his second surgery for a torn Achilles’ tendon in two years.
Running back Pierre Thomas, who had surgery in January on an ankle injury that limited him to six games last season, was able to work Friday and said he felt good even though he’s only “85 percent” recovered from the injury.
Thomas said he was a bit rusty, especially in carrying the ball because he focused all spring and summer on making sure he got back on the field.
He showed it when he fumbled twice early in practice, with one coming on the first play of the first period of team drills. He credited the defense, but said he’ll have to work on staying focused.
“I have to tip my cap to them, because they did a great job of getting to the ball,” Thomas said. “But I have to stay focused on holding on to the ball, because it is so important. I’m probably going to sleep with a football tonight.”
Six players did not take part in Friday’s practice, which lasted just more than two hours, because they failed their physicals Thursday.
Not practicing were CB Tracy Porter (knee), RB Chris Ivory (foot), P Thomas Morstead (toe), T Charles Brown (hamstring), DE Greg Romeus (knee) and G Carl Johnson (hamstring).
All six worked on the side with trainer Scottie Patton.
Wide receiver Jarred Fayson, an undrafted free agent, had two long receptions in the non-contact workout. He caught one pass and outran the secondary to the end zone, then caught another ball on a comeback route and raced 30 yards before being touched. ? Rookie linebacker Jeremiha Hunter had an interception off backup quarterback Chase Daniel on a short pass over the middle in team drills.
Welcome to N.O.
Safety Jonathon Amaya, a second-year pro acquired in the trade that sent Reggie Bush to the Miami Dolphins on Thursday, took the field with a visor before switching to a helmet early in practice.
Amaya was held out until Bush passed his physical in Miami on Friday morning, and the trade was approved by the league office.
“It’s great to be here in New Orleans, and I feel very honored,” he said when asked about being part of the Bush trade. “It’s a privilege to be here. I’m just getting acclimated to the system, and I’m excited about it.”