The New Orleans Saints agreed to terms with Senio Kelemete on a two-year extension worth up to $4 million, a source told The Advocate on Sunday.
Kelemete, an offensive lineman who has been with the Saints since 2013, was scheduled to become a restricted free agent. This deal will keep him in town for two more seasons.
Kelemete appeared in five games last season as New Orleans worked to find a consistent option at guard opposite longtime standout Jahri Evans. Andrus Peat and Tim Lelito also started games at left guard. Kelemete played in 10 games during the 2014 season.
New Orleans also has a decision to make on the future of Lelito, who is scheduled to become a restricted free agent. The Saints have until Wednesday to sign him to an extension or to tender him an offer. If neither occurs, Lelito will be free to sign with another team.
Tight end Josh Hill also is a restricted free agent.
It’s unclear what the team plans to do with Lelito and Hill. Running back Khiry Robinson also is a restricted free agent, but a source indicated last week that the Saints are not expected to tender him an offer.
The Saints have a need at guard after letting go of Evans earlier this offseason.
Even with Kelemete back in the fold, regardless of what happens with Lelito, it’s likely the Saints will enter the offseason looking to add bodies at guard via free agency or the draft.
While the Saints might have a leader for the position in-house, it seems likely the team will want to bring in someone to compete for the job. A developmental option via the draft to improve for the future could also be an option.
This marks the second offseason the Saints have entered the offseason with uncertainty on the offensive line.
New Orleans traded away veteran guard Ben Grubbs to the Kansas City Chiefs before the 2015 season. Speaking at the owners’ meetings last March, coach Sean Payton said the Saints also explored trade possibilities on Evans.
Before being released last month, Evans said he expected to return to New Orleans and had talked about his future with Payton.
Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @Nick_Underhill.