Unrestricted free agent LB Curtis Lofton, the newest Saint, agreed to terms on a five-year contract with the club on Saturday evening, after spending the first four seasons in his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons, where he notched 577 tackles (387 solo), four sacks, three interceptions, seven forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 15 pass defenses.
The hard-hitting former University of Oklahoma standout comes to the Crescent City after enjoying the most productive season of his career in 2011, when he posted a career-high 167 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and seven pass defenses. Lofton took the time out to speak to NewOrleansSaints.com about joining his new club, discussing his free agent visit to the club, his view of the Saints from the outside and his excitement to join the team as well as to be supported by the team's enthusiastic fan base.
NewOrleansSaints.com: Can you talk about your visit to the Saints last Sunday and Monday? You took some time with your thought process and decision. Can you talk about how you came about deciding to become a member of the Saints?
Curtis Lofton: "I took my visit to the Saints and I had a great meeting with all the coaches, Coach (Joe) Vitt, Coach (Steve) Spagnuolo, Coach (Sean) Payton, and (General Manager) Mickey Loomis. I walked away really impressed. Once I got back and talked to my agent, I told him I want to go to the Saints. I said let's get a deal done. We looked at all of our options and I felt that it was best for me to come be a Saint."
NewOrleansSaints.com: When you met with Steve Spagnuolo, Joe Vitt and Sean Payton last week, what impressed you with them and with the visit as a whole?
Curtis Lofton: "I would say the mentality they have – they're hungry, they want to win and they want players that want to win – that's what really impressed me about them."
NewOrleansSaints.com: Coming from probably New Orleans' most heated division rival, what did you see in the Saints playing against them the last four years and watching film on them? Did anything that you had seen play into your decision and interest?
Curtis Lofton: "I played against these guys for four years. I know they have a very powerful offense and a very good defense. From what I saw, I felt like they were a couple of players away from winning a Super Bowl. I feel like I could be one of those missing pieces and I want to link up with them and take a shot at getting another Super Bowl."
NewOrleansSaints.com: After having a very productive career at Oklahoma, it seemed like a really smooth transition into the NFL with Atlanta. Can you discuss your first four seasons in Atlanta, what you accomplished and how you think you can improve?
Curtis Lofton: "I was only at Oklahoma for three years. Most guys stay five years. My first three years, I was still really learning the game and my last two years I took big steps into developing as a football player and my knowledge level of the game. I've made many tackles and many plays, but I'm always progressing and trying to improve everything. My pass game, I really improved that last year. My main thing is I'm only 25 years old and I'm only going to get better. I feel like the coaches with the Saints are some of the greatest coaches in the league and they will help me mature and improve me as a player."
NewOrleansSaints.com: Versatility is going to be an important aspect of Coach Spagnuolo's defense. Can you talk about this aspect in terms of positions even though you played in the middle in Atlanta and your ability to adjust?
Curtis Lofton: "Here in Atlanta, we had a base package and I was the middle linebacker, but once we went to a sub-package the linebackers were interchangeable inside and outside. We used to do that all the time. I talked to Coach Spagnuolo and he said versatility is very important. It doesn't matter if I'm inside and (Jonathan) Vilma is outside or I'm outside and Vilma is inside. He and I don't have egos and we just want to win. Wherever I'm playing to put the team in the best position to win, that's the position I'll play."
NewOrleansSaints.com: You've played in a domed stadium your entire career in Atlanta. Can you talk about your impressions of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome from being a disliked opponent there and your excitement in playing for a supportive home crowd and in front of such a passionate fan base?
Curtis Lofton: "Coming to play in the Superdome is a whole other level. It's definitely a home-field advantage. You can tell the fans love the Saints. They make it hard for opposing teams to come in. I'm going to be glad to be on their side. I can't wait to get the Who Dat Nation behind me."
NewOrleansSaints.com: What would your message be to Saints fans today as you embark on continuing your career with them?
Curtis Lofton: "I'm going to give my all. I've always been the type of player that will work to improve not only on the field, but also off the field. I also want to be a part of the community because that's some of the things I love to do. I'm just excited for the opportunity to play in front of the Who Dat Nation and show them what I can do. I won't let you down."