General manager Mickey Loomis told reporters Monday that the Saints were still looking to make a few moves in free agency despite limited resources.
Two days later, Loomis backed it up by adding another piece of the puzzle.
This time, New Orleans got some help for the defense. The Saints signed veteran linebacker Nathan Stupar to a three-year contract, adding a veteran presence to a linebacking corps that cut ties with veterans David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber at the beginning of February.
“Signed with the Saints today,” Stupar tweeted after the news was announced. “Let’s bring home a championship.”
Stupar, 28, seems a likely fit to fill Humber’s role as special-teams ace and capable backup. Picked by Oakland in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL draft by Oakland, Stupar bounced around the league for the first two years, serving on practice squads with the Raiders and Eagles in 2012 before getting his feet wet in 2013 with both San Francisco and Jacksonville.
Then he found a home in Atlanta.
Deployed as a special teamer initially, Stupar made 18 tackles on special teams over the past two seasons to finish second on the Falcons in the category, and his playing time on defense kept increasing.
Capable of backing up all three linebacker spots, Stupar turned in something of a breakout year on defense in 2015, starting three games in place of injured linebackers. Offered a chance to show what he could do, Stupar had 40 tackles and a sack and broke up two passes in 259 snaps for the Falcons.
Because of his Penn State ties, he already has a former teammate in New Orleans; linebacker and special-teams ace Michael Mauti played with Stupar at Penn State.
“Stoked to be playing with my PSU teammate, Michael Mauti,” Stupar tweeted.
An addition like Stupar might not make big headlines, but it’s the kind of move the Saints can make at this point in the process.
New Orleans, a team that spent the first week of free agency by bringing back key players from last year’s roster and made one significant splash with the five-year, $36-million deal for tight end Coby Fleener, opened the day Wednesday with just $2.57 million in cap space, the lowest figure in the league.
Details for Stupar’s contract were not immediately available, but the veteran linebacker isn’t going to break the bank.
“We have limitations in resources. You have to fill the right hole with the right value,” Loomis said on Monday. “There’s nothing wrong with getting a good value and a good player.”