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John DeShazier: Jonathan Goodwin is thrilled for second chance with New Orleans Saints

Posted Jun 5, 2014

Jonathan Goodwin calls New Orleans his second home

Jonathan Goodwin wasn’t bombarded with offers as an unrestricted free agent. In fact, the 13-year veteran center only had one.

“This was pretty much the one firm offer I had,” Goodwin said.

But all that matters is that the “one” was the right one. And for Goodwin, re-signing with the New Orleans Saints was nothing short of coming home, to a franchise for which he played from 2006-10, starting during

the Super Bowl season of 2009.

Goodwin, who played for the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-13, has started 86 consecutive games, third-most among active NFL centers.

“I look at New Orleans as my second home,” said Goodwin, who still owns a home in Luling. “I’m originally from South Carolina, but I feel like this is the place where my career turned around, I had my most success. It felt really good that if I was going to continue playing football, it was here.

“(Leaving as a free agent) was probably one of the toughest decisions that I’ve had in my life. That day, I changed my mind, like, twice. I told the 49ers I was coming, then I told them I wasn’t coming, then I told them I was coming. It was a rough decision for me and my family, we loved being here.”

So coming back to a place where he won a Super Bowl, played in a Pro Bowl (2009), participated in 49 regular-season wins and helped win two NFC South Division titles was a no-brainer for both sides: Goodwin, who wanted to return to the scene of his most professional success, and the Saints, who now have competition for the starting position between Goodwin and second-year offensive lineman Tim Lelito.

“It’s good to have Jonathan back,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “He’s someone that knows the system, he’s very smart and someone we’re familiar with.

“He’s familiar with our program, he knows our system. He goes to San Francisco and obviously, it’s a little different terminology. But he’s an extremely smart player. I think he’s familiar with our setup and there’s some nuances, I’m sure, offensively that might be a little different. But for the most part, I think the transition for a player like him will be fairly rapid, which allowed us not to weigh the handful of OTAs he missed.

“Both those guys are going to have a good shot at playing for us. That’s the way it is. You’re not given a position.”

Goodwin, for his part, said he didn’t expect any charity.

“In this league, when the younger guy can play, that’s what teams tend to go with,” Goodwin said. “Guys (mentored) me so I have no problem doing it with Tim. We’ve already had conversations, I think we’re already starting to build a relationship.

“Naturally, I wouldn’t be out here if I didn’t want to play. So I still want to play. We’re going to fight each other tooth and nail so either way, I think this team will be straight at the center position.”

Even with the three-year gap, Goodwin is knowledgeable in the Saints offense.

“I’ve had a couple of instances where I’ve heard a new word and had to ask some questions, but I’ve been able to pick up on the counts and the play calls as if I’d never left,” he said. “That’s a good thing. That’s less I have to learn and reacquaint myself to.”

The faster and smoother he re-acclimates, the better for Goodwin and the Saints, who are getting a player who says he’s still hungry and able to contribute.

“After the NFC Championship Game last year (when San Francisco lost to Seattle), I took a couple days and thought about it,” he said.

“I felt like I could still play, felt like it was still fun and if the opportunity presented itself in the right place, I felt like I still could play and I still wanted to play. Of course, this was choice No. 1 for me and it worked out.”

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