With the NFL's free agency period scheduled to commence at 12:00 a.m. on Friday, February 29, the Saints announced today agreements with two players that were due to hit the unrestricted free agent market, thus insuring they will stay in the Black-and-Gold. The two key offensive players that have agreed to terms on contracts are center Jonathan Goodwin (three year deal) and wide receiver Terrance Copper (two year deal) it was announced today by Saints' Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.
Goodwin, 6-3, 318 pounds, is a University of Michigan product that has played in the NFL the past six seasons, including the past two with the Saints. The versatile native of Columbia, S.C. has played in 87 career games, including 15 starts, over the course of his career, which began after he was selected by the New York Jets in the fifth round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Goodwin played for the Jets from 2002-2005 and then joined the Saints in 2006 as an unrestricted free agent. In 2007, Goodwin was a key cog along the Saints' offensive line, appearing in 13 games and making two starts (both victories) at center, when Jeff Faine was shelved with a chest injury in the middle of the season. Goodwin, who started the first ten games of the 2005 season with the Jets in place of injured center Kevin Mawae, stepped in immediately when called upon in '07 with the Saints and helped the offensive line hold the Jacksonville Jaguars' formidable defensive tackle duo of John Henderson and Marcus Stroud in check en route to one of the Saints' most impressive victories of the season. The Saints' offensive line allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL (16) in 2007, which marked the second fewest sacks in franchise history (15-1992).
Copper, who was claimed on waivers by the Saints following his release from the Dallas Cowboys at the conclusion of the 2006 training camp, has been an integral part of the Saints' multiple receiver sets the past two seasons, as well as serving as a key member of the team's special teams coverage units, recording 39 tackles during his career. Copper has also stepped in on occasion into the starting lineup when called upon and has caught 38 passes for 511 yards (13.4 average) and five touchdowns in a Saints uniform. The 2008 season will be Copper's fifth season in the NFL, having played for the Cowboys his first two seasons (2004-2005). Copper, a product of East Carolina University in North Carolina, has also seen spot duty as a kickoff return man during his career, with 24 returns for 467 yards (19.5 average) with a long return of 39 yards.
In other roster news, the club released veteran kicker Olindo Mare. Mare joined the Saints in April 2007, coming to New Orleans in a trade from the Miami Dolphins and converted 10 of 17 field goal attempts in 13 games before seeing his season cut short when he suffered a hip subluxation while attempting to make a tackle on a kickoff at Atlanta on December 10. The 11-year veteran was placed on injured reserve two days later.