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New Orleans Saints make versatile additions in defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. and tackle Storm Norton

Johnson plays three secondary positions, Norton fills at both offensive tackle spots

New Orleans Saints announced that they have signed with free agent defensive back Lonnie Johnson Jr. on Tuesday, March 21, 2023. Check out Lonnie in action with the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans during his NFL career.

Call it versatility, or call it multiplicity, or call it some synonym of the two.

Whatever you call it, know that it's what the New Orleans Saints often are seeking in players, and they added two more Tuesday in unrestricted free agents Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Storm Norton.

Johnson, a second-round pick by the Houston Texans in 2019, can play several positions in the secondary and Norton, an undrafted rookie in 2017, is versed in playing both offensive tackle spots.

"I'm going to put my head down, get to work," said Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 213-pounder with three interceptions and 13 passes defensed in 56 regular-season games, with 19 starts. "Wherever they need me to be – whether that's guarding tight ends, playing corner, playing safety – they know I can do multiple things. So whatever they need me to do, that's what I'm willing to do. I'm just going to put my head down and get to it.

"I can play outside, I can play slot, I can play safety. I just wanted to be somewhere that was able to utilize my abilities to my strength, and bring something to a team that they probably haven't had, or they were looking for."

Norton, listed at 6-7, 317, played in 12 games for the Chargers last season and saw action at right tackle and left tackle in five of them. In 2021, he started 15 of 17 games at right tackle for the Chargers.

"At this point in my career, the experience part comes into it," Norton said. "You can never have too much depth on the offensive line. We play a real physical game up front, and we lay our bodies on the line. Being able to play both tackles is really valuable in this league. As an offensive lineman, you really just kind of do whatever it takes to help the team and make it be successful."

Each said New Orleans presented the best opportunity for success as a free agent.

"Talked to two teams, but we just came to the decision that this was the best opportunity for me, the best situation, the best fit," Johnson said. "This team has great history and winning culture, so it was no other option for me. I was like, let me just go ahead and get here and become a Saint as soon as possible."

"They were kind of the first team that reached out and showed interest, a day or so after the Chargers kind of mentioned that they weren't going to have me back," Norton said. "So it just kind of went from there. It was a good fit from the beginning and we went with it."

Norton's name is a nod to former major league pitcher George Earl "Storm" Davis, who pitched for the Orioles from 1982-86.

"We grew up in the Toledo (Ohio) area, so pretty close to Detroit," he said. "My parents went to a Tigers game one day, and the pitcher happened to be named Storm Davis. And I guess at that moment, they kind of knew that that's what they were rolling with."

Johnson, meanwhile, will roll into New Orleans and finally catch up to a name, Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu, that he said he seems to have been chasing during his NFL career.

"I got drafted to Houston, he left Houston," Johnson said. "I got traded to Kansas City, he left Kansas City. So it's like, my career has been low key been chasing Tyrann this whole time. But I've finally got a chance to be on the same team with him.

"I always looked up to him, always watched his film, tried to model my game after his in a taller version. I'm just excited to see what energy he brings and how he approaches the game mentally, and see how I can take my game to the next level."


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