The New Orleans Saints are beginning to bring together their candidates for this year’s kicker battle.
The team agreed to terms with Josh Scobee on Friday morning, making him the first kicker to be added to the 2016 roster. He signed a one-year deal at the league minimum, a source told The Advocate.
The veteran, who played at Louisiana Tech, spent 11 seasons in Jacksonville before being traded to Pittsburgh last season. He appeared in six games and missed four of his first 10 attempts before he was released.
Scobee battled a hip flexor injury last season and attempted to play through it, which contributed to his struggles. He has rehabbed the injury and is ready to compete for a job.
A source said Scobee received interest from other teams but chose New Orleans because there is opportunity to win the job here. He signed for the league minimum so that economics would not be part of the decision when choosing a kicker.
New Orleans finished ranked 31st in field-goal percentage (69.2 percent) last season. It appears this offseason will continue the search for stability at the position.
The Saints have conducted a kicker battle each of the past two training camps. Last year, Dustin Hopkins and Zach Hocker fought for the job throughout camp, with Hocker prevailing after piecing together a stronger preseason.
Hocker then missed four of his 13 attempts with the Saints, including a potential game-winner against Dallas. He was released Oct. 19 and replaced by Kai Forbath. Hopkins, meanwhile, made 25 of his 28 attempts with Washington.
Forbath, who appeared in the final 10 games, made nine of his 13 attempts for the Saints, including 2 of 3 from 50 yards or longer. He’s scheduled to reach free agency, but a source told The Advocate that the team has interest in bringing him back to compete for the job.
New Orleans has not had much stability at kicker since Sean Payton took over in 2006. The team has paraded through the likes of John Carney, Olindo Mare, Martin Gramatica, Garrett Hartley, John Kasay and Shayne Graham.
The Saints could be keeping an eye out for a younger option. The team met with Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo, who is considered the top kicker in this draft class, last month at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. The young kicker singled out New Orleans as one of the teams he spoke with and felt had a vacancy at the position.
“Definitely talking to them,” Aguayo said. “Their team is in need of a kicker.”
Khiry Robinson might not be back in New Orleans.
The running back, a restricted free agent, is not expected to be tendered a contract by the Saints, a source told The Advocate. That would allow Robinson to sign with another team, but he would be open to return to New Orleans if the opportunity presents itself.
Tight end Josh Hill and guards Tim Lelito and Senio Kelemete also are restricted free agents. The Saints have until Wednesday to extend offer sheets to those players, or they will reach free agency. The lowest tender is $1.671 million.
Robinson signed with the Saints as an undrafted player in 2013. He has rushed for 766 yards and eight touchdowns in the past three seasons.
He rushed for 180 yards on 56 carries last season through eight games before suffering a fractured tibia that landed him on injured reserve.
New Orleans has Mark Ingram, C.J. Spiller and Marcus Murphy under contract at running back. Travaris Cadet and Tim Hightower are free agents.