Undoubtedly, there was a significant financial element to the New Orleans Saints solidifying their bond with defensive end Cameron Jordan on Wednesday morning, courtesy of a three-year contract extension.
Jordan is a two-time All-Pro and four-time Pro-Bowl selection who’s at the height of his powers, with 42.5 of his 71.5 career sacks and 28 of his 44 career passes defended over the last four seasons, a run few defenders in franchise history can match.
The 29-year-old, nine-year veteran is one of the NFL’s best at his position and his contract will reflect that status.
But for Jordan, it was just as important, if not more, to remain a Saint.
“That’s something where you can relax and know that you’re wanted in the area,” he said. “At this point, I’ve always said, it’s not about being the highest-paid player for me. I’ve got personal goals.
“As embedded as I am in this community, as much as I love this place, as much as my family is at home here, uprooting isn’t really an option for me. I feel like if I go into the city, I’ve worked hard to be a part of this city. I want to know exactly what the city has in store, and I’ve always made that as open as possible. It’s not about me, it’s not about my family, it’s about the collective.”
Jordan, a defensive captain, is one of the Saints leaders off the field, too. He’s at the forefront of the team’s community service events – few players, regardless of organization, spend as much or more time visiting schools and conversing with students – and he has been on several USO tours.
And while Jordan was raised in Arizona and played collegiately at the University of California, he has made it a point to embrace New Orleans.
“My goal, from being drafted here, is to win the Super Bowl here,” he said. “My goal is to win a Super Bowl here. My goal will be to win another Super Bowl, eventually. (But) I feel that – I’ve always said it – I’ve always said that New Orleans has become my home.
“My kids are from New Orleans. I’ll be in New Orleans until they decide they don’t want me no more. It’s really a one-way deal – I want to be here, I’m going to be here until they kick me out.
“At the end of the day, I’m fully blessed to be a part of this team, fully blessed to be a part of this organization. When you come in and you get drafted, coming from the West Coast, you have this vision of grandeur. My dad (tight end Steve Jordan) played for the Vikings for 13 years. I said I wanted to be with the same team for the rest of my career. And this gives me the opportunity to extend to however long we go.”
Jordan has been the Saints’ signature defender the last six seasons. He never has missed a game (127 starts in 128 regular-season contests) and currently ranks fourth on the Saints’ all-time sacks list. Rickey Jackson leads with 115; Jordan is 5.5 sacks from moving into third place ahead of Pat Swilling, and 11.5 from overtaking Wayne Martin at No. 2.
“I think that it is much deserved and he's someone that has been extremely productive,” Coach Sean Payton said Tuesday. “I think it's a good thing.
“He's one of the leaders. We go back to the ‘11 draft when we took him. I think, No. 1, you lead with your performance and work on the field. He's one of those guys that's in great shape. He trains hard. I think it starts with the way he prepares.”
Jordan said he intends to keep the same mentality for his on-field work.
“I’m still going to keep working and being the same person I’ve always been,” he said.
And he’ll continue being the same figure in the community that he has established.
“I bike around here, I go anywhere from Old Metairie to Uptown. I walk across the street with the family. Everybody knows me at the grocery store. My familiarity here has been welcomed. At this point, I feel like I am a part of the city.
“Still need the Super Bowl, though.”