The New Orleans Saints announced Friday, March 10 that they have agreed to terms with DT Nick Fairleyon a four-year contract, agreed to terms on a three-year contract with unrestricted free agent WR Ted Ginn Jr., a three-year contract with unrestricted free agent LB A.J. Klein and a four-year contract with unrestricted free agent G Larry Warford. The club has also terminated the contract of S Rafael Bush. The announcement was made by Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.
Fairley, 6-4, 308, signed with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent in 2006. The six-year NFL veteran started all 16 games for the first time in his career and recorded 50 tackles (32 solo) and a career-high 6.5 sacks for a loss of 43.5 yards. As a team New Orleans' run defense ranking improved from 31st in the NFL in 2015 to 14th in 2016.
In addition to his first year in New Orleans, Fairley has also played for the Detroit Lions (2011-14) and St. Louis Rams (2015). He's played in 77 career games with 46 starts and has recorded 211 tackles (129 solo), 20.5 sacks, four passes defensed, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. The Mobile, Ala., native was originally selected by Detroit in the first round (13th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Auburn, where in two years, recorded 88 tackles, 13 sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Ginn, 5-11, 180 pounds, was originally selected by the Miami Dolphins in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. He has appeared in 151 regular season contests and started 61 games for Miami (2007-09), San Francisco (2010-12), Arizona (2014) and Carolina (2013, 2015-16), posting career totals of 309 receptions for 4,285 yards (13.9 avg.) with 25 touchdowns and has rushed 52 times for 403 yards with two touchdowns. On special teams, Ginn has returned 238 punts for 2,497 yards (10.5 avg.) with four touchdowns and brought back 300 kickoffs for 6,842 yards (22.8 avg.) with three touchdowns.
In 2016, Ginn played in all 16 games with eight starts for the Panthers and recorded 54 receptions for 752 yards (13.9 avg.) with four touchdowns, rushed 14 times for 98 yards, returned 29 punts for 202 yards and brought back 18 kickoffs for 391 yards (21.7 avg.) for 1,443 total yards from scrimmage. Each of Ginn's four scoring grabs went for at least 30 yards, with him recording a touchdown of at least 40 yards in three consecutive games from Weeks 11 to 13. His career-long 88-yard touchdown grab in Week 11 at Oakland was the NFL's third-longest reception of the season.
The Cleveland, Ohio native played three seasons for the Buckeyes where he saw action in 37 games with 31 starts and caught 153 passes for 1,943 yards and 15 touchdowns, rushed for 213 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries, returned 64 punts for 900 yards with six touchdowns and 38 kickoffs for 1,012 yards with two touchdowns, as he tied an NCAA record with eight career touchdowns on returns.
Klein, entering his fifth NFL season, first entered the league as a fifth round draft pick (148th overall) of the Carolina Panthers out of Iowa State in 2013 and has appeared in 60 regular season contests and started 24 games for Carolina, posting career totals of 155 tackles (121 solo), four sacks, one interception, 15 passes defensed, three forced fumbles and 27 special teams stops.
A 6-1, 240-pound native of Kimberly, Wis., in 2016 Klein played in 15 games with six starts in the middle and one on the outside for Carolina and posted 31 tackles (26 solo), one sack, a career-high two forced fumbles and two special teams stops. In 2015, he played in 15 games with seven starts for the Panthers and recorded a career-high 56 tackles (42 solo), one sack, one interception, one forced fumble and a team-best 13 special teams stops, adding three more defensive tackles in three postseason contests for the Super Bowl 50 finalists.
As a four-year letterman at Iowa State, Klein appeared in 51 games with 38 starts from 2009-12 and totaled 361 career tackles, 20 tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, five interceptions and nine passes defensed, tying an NCAA career record for linebackers with a school-record four interception returns for touchdowns. He was a three-time All-Big 12 selection and when he was named Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, he became the first Iowa State player to win the honor.
A third round draft pick by the Detroit Lions (65th overall) out of Kentucky in 2013, Warford immediately became a starter at right guard as a rookie, where he opened every contest and was named the 2013 Pro Football Focus Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Oceanside, Calif. native has opened all 57 regular season contests he has played in at right guard. Since his rookie season, the Lions have ranked seventh in the NFL in net passing yards per game (263.0). In 2016, he opened all 15 regular season games he played in for the Lions and the team's playoff contest.
Warford, 6-3, 317 pounds, opened 37-of-47 contests at the University of Kentucky as a three-year starter at right guard and earned Southeastern Conference honors all four years of his career. As a senior in 2012, Warford started all 12 games and received All-American Second Team and All-SEC honors from the NFL Draft Report as he did not allow a sack all season.
After joining New Orleans as an unrestricted free agent in 2014, Byrd played in 33 games with 31 starts for the Saints and recorded 184 tackles (125 solo), one sack, three interceptions, seven passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. In 2016, Byrd played in all 16 games for the first time in his Saints tenure with 15 starts and ranked third on the team in tackles (96) and tied for the team lead in interceptions (two). Originally selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round (42nd overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft, Byrd's played in 106 career games with 98 starts for the Saints and Bills, posting 546 tackles (281 solo), three sacks, 26 interceptions, two returned for touchdowns, 40 passes defensed, 14 forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries.