Johnathan Abram officially didn't become a New Orleans Saint until Wednesday, but the five-year veteran long ago was somewhat of an in-game participant for New Orleans.
The Columbia, Miss., native attended a game as a youngster and came away with a piece of football gold.
"One of my favorite memories is I came to a game, I saw Aaron Brooks throw a touchdown to Joe Horn and I actually got the ball from that," Abram said.
"We were there pretty early, got to see the warmups and kind of how things worked out. I remember screaming at Joe Horn, like, 'I want a ball! I want a ball! I want a ball!' And he scored, and he jumped up and just gave it to me."
Maybe, the safety will have the opportunity to repay the kindness if he's able to score on a pick-six for the Saints, with whom he agreed to terms on a contract as an unrestricted free agent.
Abram, a first-round pick (No. 27 overall) of the Oakland Raiders in 2019 NFL Draft, spent most of his first four seasons in Oakland and Las Vegas. Thirty-four of his 36 career starts came with the franchise, before he was released during the 2022 season and finished out the year with Green Bay and Seattle.
He has totaled three interceptions, 14 passes defensed, two fumble recoveries, eight tackles for loss, nine quarterback hits and 267 tackles in his career.
"I had a couple of teams that were interested," he said. "The decision came down to a couple of reasons – I've got the chance to play with some great guys, they've already had a great culture of playing defense here.
"It's close to home, which kind of makes sense for me. It means a little bit more when you're kind of playing for what they call the home team. I kind of got that same experience coming from college, I started out at Georgia and finished up at Mississippi State.
"And coming here, I look at the defensive backs who've played here, they've all pretty much had success whether they're here or whether they've left."
While his free agency process didn't take on college recruitment levels, Abram did have one hugely persuasive voice chime in: Saints quarterback Derek Carr, who was with the Raiders from 2014-22, spanning the entirety of Abram's tenure.
"I talked to D.C. a few times," Abram said. "He helped persuade me to come here as well. He said the thing he wants to do is win the (NFC) South (Division), and move on and try to bring a Super Bowl back here to New Orleans. I'm on board with that."
Abram also will join former college teammate J.T. Gray, the Saints' safety who twice has been named All-Pro. The two played at Mississippi State in '17.
"J.T. is my guy," he said. "I look forward to going out there and competing with him every day, and flying around and making some plays on special teams with my guy."
As for the secondary, Abram said he'll slide into the role that coaches designate.
"I'm essentially here to just find how I fit in, to do what I do best, be myself and just complement the guys around me," he said. "Try to make everybody better every day, that's all I look forward to doing."
New Orleans Saints announced that they have signed with free agent safety Johnathan Abram on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. Check out Johnathan in action with the Seattle Seahawks and Las Vegas Raiders during his NFL career.