The New Orleans Saints continue to take steps to ensure none of the players they value to get away.
The team continued to check items off its offseason itinerary by locking up linebacker Parys Haralson and kicker Shayne Graham to one-year deals. The terms of the contracts are not yet known.
Both transactions were announced by the Saints on Thursday afternoon.
Haralson, 31, finished last season with 23 tackles and three sacks. Haralson played 498 snaps last season and logged 11 additional quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.
Haralson was acquired by the Saints at the end of the 2013 preseason via a trade with the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a 2014 seventh-round draft pick. During his inaugural season with New Orleans, he played 373 of 1,048 defensive snaps and finished with 3.5 sacks and 30 tackles.
Haralson injured a pectoral muscle after his irst season in New Orleans, had surgery after the season, and returned to the Saints on a one-year deal. The injury led to initial doubts about his ability to continue playing.
As last season came to a close, he once again wondered about his future in the NFL and desire to play the game. Thursday’s deal puts an end to those doubts and questions.
Both players will have to prove their worth this offseason if they hope to make the team.
Graham has been fighting for his job since replacing Garrett Hartley late in the 2013 season.
He had to beat out Derek Dimke for the starting job coming out of training camp, and then made 19-of-22 attempts last season, with a long of 50 yards.
Coach Sean Payton appeared to send a message to the 37-year-old last season after working out a quartet of kickers late in the season and then signing Dustin Hopkins to the practice squad. With Hopkins locked up on a futures contract, Graham will once again have competition for the starting job.
The Saints currently have Ronald Powell, Kasim Edebali, and Junior Galette listed as the other outside linebackers. In actuality, Powell is the only player of that bunch to receive snaps at strongside linebacker, where Haralson logged the majority of his snaps when the team was in a 4-3 defensive alignment.
If he makes the team, the veteran Haralson will continue to provide leadership and compete for a job, but the Saints will likely continue to search for ways to upgrade the linebacker position this offseason.
The team still has the other starting linebackers, Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne, under contract. Hawthorne is due to count more than $6 million against the salary cap, while Lofton comes in at $9.25 million cap charge. Both players have roster bonuses that could be converted to singing bonuses to free up cap space.
Haralson is the third member of the free-agent class to receive a new deal with New Orleans. The Saints recently signed backup quarterback Luke McCown to a one-year deal, and retained offensive lineman Senio Kelemete, who was an exclusive-rights free agent, for 2015.