New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis announced Monday that the club has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with unrestricted free agent free safetyDarren Sharper, bringing the veteran defender back to New Orleans for a second season.
"We have said since the end of the season that we would love to have Darren back in a Saints uniform for 2010 and I'm glad we've been able to make that happen," Loomis said. "Darren was an integral part of our Super Bowl-winning team and we look forward to having him back."
Sharper, 34, leads all active NFL players in interceptions with 63 and was a key cog in leading the Saints to their Super Bowl XLIV victory as he matched his career-best with nine interceptions in being named to his fifth Pro Bowl in his 13th NFL season. Prior to signing with New Orleans in March 2009, the veteran defender played eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers after being selected in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft and later played four seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
The 6-2, 210-pound product of William & Mary has played in 197 career regular season games, with 181 starts to his credit, and has racked up 1,085 tackles, 147 passes defensed, 63 interceptions, nine forced fumbles, 7½ sacks and seven fumble recoveries. In 13 career postseason games, Sharper has started 10 of the contests and registered 74 career tackles, 11 passes defensed, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Sharper brought a ball-hawking mentality to the Saints defense in 2009, starting 14 games at free safety and picking off nine passes – gaining an NFL-record 376 yards on interception returns, including three touchdowns – and made 93 tackles (55 solo) with half a sack and seven passes defensed. He also started all three postseason games and notched 24 tackles with a pass defense and a fumble recovery.
Sharper's 63 career interceptions places him in a tie with Ronnie Lott for sixth on the all-time list and he ranks second only to Rod Woodson in interception return yardage (1,412) and interceptions returned for touchdowns with 11.