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New Orleans Saints sign 11 to reserve/future contracts

General Manager Mickey Loomis announced the moves

New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis announced Monday that the club has signed offensive lineman Mark Evans II, defensive tackle Jack Heflin, defensive back Faion Hicks, tight ends Tommy Hudson and Michael Jacobson, guard Tommy Kraemer, defensive end Niko Lalos, running back Jordan Mims, linebacker Anfernee Orji, defensive tackle John Penisini and running back James Robinson to reserve/future contracts.

Mark Evans II – offensive lineman, Arkansas-Pine Bluff (6-2, 295): Originally signed by New Orleans as a free agent after the NFL Draft, was a four-year letterman and three-time all SWAC selection at left tackle at Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Houston, Texas native received All-Conference honors in 2022 for the third consecutive season. After spending the preseason with the Saints, he spent the last three-and-a-half months of the season on their practice squad.

Jack Heflin – defensive tackle, Iowa (6-3, 304): Heflin was originally signed by the Green Bay Packers as free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft out of Iowa and has played in six games for the Packers (2021), New York Giants (2022) and Saints (2023), making two assisted tackles. In the spring of 2023, the Prophetstown, Ill. native was an All-XFL selection for the Houston Roughnecks, when he recorded 25 tackles, three stops for loss and one sack, followed by signing with the Saints. In New Orleans he spent the season on the practice squad, recording one assisted tackle in his only appearance vs. Carolina, Dec. 10. Heflin played his graduate season in 2020 at Iowa, where he started all eight games for the Hawkeyes and recorded 21 tackles, 3.5 stops for loss and one sack. He started his college career at Northern Illinois (2017-19), where in 2019, he started all 11 games and earned first-team All-Mid American Conference (Pro Football Focus) and second-team All-MAC from league coaches, posting 31 tackles (14 solo), leading the team with a career-high 8.5 stops for loss and three sacks, also adding three forced fumbles, ranked second in the conference.

Faion Hicks – defensive back, Wisconsin (5-10, 192): Originally selected in the seventh round (232nd overall) of the 2022 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos out of Wisconsin. In 2022, the Pembroke Pines, Fla. native appeared in two games on special teams. In 2023, after spending the preseason with Denver, he spent the last 17 weeks of the season on the Saints practice squad. During his college career, he started 39-of-44 games for the Badgers and recorded 108 tackles (85 solo), one interception and 18 passes defensed. In 2021, he started all 11 games played and was named consensus All-Big Ten honorable mention for the second consecutive year after tallying 28 tackles (21 solo) and ten passes defensed.

Tommy Hudson – tight end, Arizona State (6-5, 255): originally signed by the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2020 out of Arizona State and in five games with Tennessee in 2021 after spending his rookie season on the practice squad, he caught three passes for 31 yards. In 2022, the San Jose, Calif. native spent three weeks on the Titans active roster. Hudson spent the 2023 preseason with the Denver Broncos and then spent the entire season on the Saints practice squad. A four-year letterman for Arizona State, Hudson was a key asset in both the passing game and in pass-and run blocking. He recorded 25 career receptions for 205 yards in 40 games with 26 starts. In 2019, he played in 13 games with 11 starts and racked up a career-high 112 yards on ten catches (11.2 avg.). During his junior season, he totaled a career-high 13 catches for 66 yards.

Michael Jacobson – tight end, Iowa State (6-7, 244): Originally signed by the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2021, following a college basketball career at Nebraska (2015-17) and Iowa State (2018-20) and playing for the Kyiv-Basket of the Ukrainian Basketball League. In 2021, Jacobson spent time on both the Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts practice squads and went to training camp with the Colts in 2022 and 2023. He then spent the last 17 weeks of the 2023 season on the Saints practice squad.

Tommy Kraemer – guard, Notre Dame (6-6, 316): Originally signed by the Detroit Lions as a free agent following the 2021 NFL Draft out of Notre Dame. He joined New Orleans early in the training camp and has spent the majority of the season on the team's practice squad, appearing in three contests. The Cincinnati native played in nine games with three starts for the Lions in 2021 (two at right guard, one at left guard). Kraemer played four seasons for the Fighting Irish (2017-2020), starting 39-of-43 games played (27 at right guard and 12 at right tackle) and helped them earn two trips to the College Football Playoff semifinals. In 2020, he was selected first-team All-ACC and the third-team AP All-America. He was also a part of an offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award as the NCAA's best offensive line in 2017 and helped the Irish rank seventh in the FBS with an average of 269.3 rushing yards per game.

Niko Lalos – defensive end, Dartmouth (6-5, 270): Lalos made an impression in the preseason, when his four sacks led the NFC and was tied for the NFL lead, securing a spot on the practice squad for the entire season. Lalos' preseason followed a performance of 35 tackles, seven stops for loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one interception for the XFL's Seattle Sea Dragons in the spring.  The Akron, Ohio native spent the second half of the 2022 season on the Saints practice squad. Originally signed by the New York Giants in 2020 as an undrafted free agent out of Dartmouth, Lalos played in six games in his rookie season and posted five tackles (two solo), one interception, one fumble recovery and one assisted special teams stop. He played in 24 games in three seasons for Dartmouth, recording 59 tackles (32 solo), including 17.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, nine passes defensed, an interception and a fumble recovery.

Jordan Mims – running back, Fresno State (6-0, 205): Mims was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills out of Fresno State this spring and in the preseason carried 11 times for 47 yards with one touchdown and caught four passes for 45 yards. He signed with the Saints practice squad at the conclusion of the preseason and recorded one special teams tackle in two appearances on the active roster. Mims played five seasons at Fresno State, where he was a teammate of Saints QB Jake Haener. In 2022, he carried 261 times for 1,372 yards with 18 touchdowns to earn first-team All-Mountain West. In his final college game, the Palo Alto, Calif., native had a career-high 209 yards on 18 carries against Washington State in the Jimmy Kimmel Bowl.

Anfernee Orji – linebacker, Vanderbilt (6-1, 230): Orji is a Rockwall, Texas native, who was a four-year letterman at Vanderbilt, who led the Commodores in tackles for three straight seasons. In 2022 as a senior, he logged 81 tackles and returned a fumble 28 yards for a touchdown to capture second-team Phil Steele All-Southeastern Conference honors. Signed as an undrafted free agent by the Saints in 2023, he competed in training camp and the preseason and spent the entire season on the practice squad.

John Penisini – nose tackle, Utah (6-2, 325): A third-year NFL veteran, who was originally selected by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round (197th overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft out of Utah.  In two seasons in Detroit from 2020-21, he made 49 tackles with one sack, one pass defense and one fumble recovery. In 2023, he spent part of the offseason and training camp with the Carolina Panthers then spent the last five weeks on the Saints practice squad. In college, the West Jordan, Utah native played in 40 career games with 22 starts and made 80 tackles, five sacks, one pass defense, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked kick.

James Robinson – running back, Illinois State (5-9, 219): Originally signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State in 2020. In 40 career games with 32 starts for the Jaguars (2020-22), New York Jets (2022) and Green Bay Packers (2023), Robinson has carried 515 times for 2,264 yards (4.4 avg.) with 18 touchdowns and has caught 92 passes for 615 yards (6.7 avg.) with four TDs. In 2020, the Rockford, Ill. native was a PFWA All-Rookie selection, as he started all 14 games he appeared in and carried 240 times for 1,070 yards (4.5 avg.) with seven touchdowns and caught 49 passes for 344 yards with three TDs. In 2021, he played in 14 games with 13 starts and carried 164 times for 767 yards (4.7 avg.) with eight touchdowns and caught 31 passes for 222 yards. In 2022, in 11 games with five starts for the Jaguars and Jets, Robinson carried 110 times for 425 yards with three touchdowns, including a career-long 50-yard touchdown and caught 11 passes for 51 yards and two TDs. Robinson went to 2023 training camp with the New York Giants and then spent the majority of the season on the Green Bay Packers practice squad, carrying once for two yards and catching a pass for -2 yards. He spent the final month on the Saints practice squad.

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