NFL agent Ralph Cindrich said he expects his client Zach Strief on Monday to agree to re-sign with the Saints, for whom he’s played his entire eight-year career.
Right tackle Strief became an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday but has not visited any other teams.
Asked via text message whether Strief planned to meet with the Saints on Monday, Cindrich responded: “Yes. Go (with) it. Signing today.”
Strief has all along wanted to remain with the Saints, and the team hoped to keep him, Cindrich has said. But Cindrich has also said New Orleans was “not in a position to make an offer.”
The Saints’ front office has since apparently been able to change that. Aside from re-signing Strief, they’ve extended running back Pierre Thomas’ contract by two years, successfully pursued marquee free-agent safety Jairus Byrd and traded running back Darren Sproles to Philadelphia for a draft pick, among other decisions.
If it indeed manages to re-sign Strief, New Orleans will feel that it can scratch off one of the top items on its to-do list. He was one of the Saints’ offensive captains, and he was one of their top locker-room leaders. A seventh round draft pick for New Orleans in 2006, he’s started 42 games for the Black and Gold, including the playoffs. Head coach Sean Payton inserted him into the starting lineup three seasons ago, two campaigns after the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV.
With Strief as a starter, the Saints have gone to the divisional round of the playoffs twice and won the NFC South once.
The website Pro Football Focus gave him and future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees the highest overall ratings for Saints players in 2013.
After surrendering just three sacks and four quarterback hits on one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the NFL, Pro Football Focus also gave Strief the seventh highest rating among tackles in the league.
Strief earned a base salary of $2.23 million in 2013. At the end of the season, he expressed his desire to rejoin New Orleans for what he called his “last opportunity to sign a contract in this league.”
“Obviously, this organization has been a big part of my life,” Strief said in January. “I feel like I’ve been a part of the success here, and I don’t want to leave that.”