Skip to main content
New Orleans Saints

Saints News | New Orleans Saints |

Running back Jamaal Williams, defensive tackle Khalen Saunders fill critical areas for New Orleans Saints in free agency

'I'm grateful to be part of a team that already knows how to win and knows what to do'

Of all the descriptions that can and will be affixed to Jamaal Williams' personality, the newest New Orleans Saints running back never will be labeled "bland."

As Williams showed during his introductory news conference Friday, he doesn't go from 0 to 100. He stays at 100.

So when Williams mentioned that he already had been contacted by Saints quarterback Derek Carr, the enthusiasm popped out like bolts of electricity.

"I'm ready to go," Williams said. "I know (Carr) is, too. He already texted me. I know when my quarterback texts me, oh yeah, he means business and it's about to go. I'm just grateful, grateful to be on this great team. I can't wait to go. Where's my helmet at?"

Defensive tackle Khalen Saunders also conducted his introductory news conference Friday, as both players signed their contracts with New Orleans.

When the Saints gather and distribute helmets for offseason work, in Williams, they'll have added last season's NFL leader in rushing touchdowns (17) and a player coming off a career high in carries (262) and rushing yards (1,066).

Also, they'll have added an avowed Pokemon aficionado.

"I think I bring a lot of emotion," Williams said. "I think I bring a lot of just 100 percent love and grit, and just being a warrior, and just being myself. I don't do anything I feel like that's out of what teams do, or try to be apart from the team.

"I want to be part of the team no matter what I can do, so blocking, running it, kick return or punt return. Whatever they need me to do, I'm down with. I'm just here to give everything I've got, give all my talents, keep learning how to get better because you can never stop improving."

Saunders also is convinced that he has more to give, that he hasn't come close to tapping in to all of the effectiveness he can provide for an NFL team. He adds a commanding physical presence - 6 feet, 325 pounds - to the interior.

In his first four seasons, he started five of 38 games he played and had 4.5 sacks (3.5 last season) and 81 tackles (48 last year). But from the moment he learned the Saints were interested, he knew his destination.

"I hadn't even known at the time (that David Onyemata and Shy Tuttle, two defensive tackles from last year's team, were signed elsewhere)," Saunders said. "Honestly, I told my agent to look around for the best opportunity. That's a word that you'll hear me use a lot, is opportunity. Because I feel like that's one of the things that people overlook.

"I'm all about my opportunity and what I get to do with it. It wasn't like, I got a call from all these different teams and I was like, 'I want to go with them.' The Saints were contacting my agents. They were like, we want him, we want to give him an opportunity. Once you hear that, I was like, I don't need to hear anything else.

"The biggest thing on me is getting an opportunity and wanting to feel wanted and wanting to feel like you're going to get some valuable time in there and valuable experience. That was the tone from the jump, as soon as I started talking to them and as soon as my agent started talking to me about here. I was like, I'm eager to do it. You get the opportunity, you get the chances. Why wouldn't I take it?"

New Orleans also offered Saunders a strong sales pitch: Two of his former Kansas City Chiefs teammates – safeties Tyrann Mathieu and defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon – are on the roster. Mathieu, especially, impacted Saunders, who was drafted by the Chiefs in 2019, when Mathieu was entering his seventh season.

Saunders said he had dinner with Mathieu on Thursday.

"I'm happy to be back with him," Saunders said. "He's a real prevalent figure in my career. I came in as a rookie and he was there. He was a vet, he was a vocal leader so I'll never forget that. I'm happy to be back with him.

"He knows the type of guy I am, he knows my heart, he knows what type of things I want to do and what type of things I like to bring to a room. So, I hopefully can look to help lead and help get some wins. That's all we want to do here."

Williams seeks no less with the Saints.

"I just like the team," he said. "It kind of came out of nowhere but at the same time, I just love how they had interest in me. It showed that they wanted me to be here.

"I'm just proud to be a part of a great team like this, a lot of vets on it, a team that has a lot of players that know what playoffs is. I'm just grateful to be here and be part of a team that already knows how to win and knows what to do."

Related Content