Associated Press photos of new Saints LB James Laurinaitis.
The New Orleans Saints announced today that they have agreed to terms with free agent linebacker James Laurinaitis on a three-year contract and with safety Jamarca Sanford on a one-year contract. The announcements were made by Saints' Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.
The 6-foot-2, 248-pound Laurinaitis (pronounced Lore-in-EYE-tis) comes to New Orleans from the St. Louis Rams, with whom he started all 112 contests he appeared in, never missing a game, after originally being selected in the second round (35th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. Laurinaitis has career totals in seven NFL seasons of a Rams franchise-record 1,015 tackles (698 solo), 16.5 sacks, 10 interceptions, 36 passes defensed, four forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. He's recorded at least 100 tackles each season. Since 2009, the Plymouth, Minn. native is the only player in the NFL with 15 or more sacks and 10 or more picks and only four linebackers have exceeded his total of 10 interceptions.
Laurinaitis finished the 2015 season, starting all 16 games for the seventh consecutive season and recording 114 tackles (80 solo), one sack for a loss of four yards, one interception and a career-high three forced fumbles. It was his seventh consecutive campaign with at least 100 stops as he became the Rams' all-time leader in tackles.
Laurinaitis came into the NFL from Ohio State, where he played from 2005-08 and was a two-time team captain. He started the last 39 of 51 career games for the Buckeyes and his 375 career tackles ranks seventh in school history, leading the team in stops his final three seasons. He earned first-team All-America and All-Big 10 Conference honors as a senior, junior and sophomore, registering a career-high 130 tackles in his final campaign. As a junior, he received Big 10 Defensive Player of the Year and Butkus Award honors.
The 5-10, 200-pound Sanford returns to New Orleans after originally joining the team late in the 2014 season. Originally a seventh round draft pick (231st overall) of the Minnesota Vikings out of the University of Mississippi, the Batesville, Miss. native has played in 95 career NFL contests with 46 starts in seven seasons with three clubs and has posted totals of 332 tackles (228 solo), one sack, three interceptions, 15 passes defensed, eight forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, 57 special teams stops and one coverage forced fumble.
Since joining the Saints in 2014, Sanford has contributed on both defense and special teams, appearing in 22 games with two starts and recording 24 tackles (15 solo), one interception, one pass defensed and 13 special teams stops. In 2015, he played in all 16 contests for the second time in his career and posted nine stops, a fourth quarter interception in the season finale at Atlanta to set up the game-winning field goal, one pass defensed and nine special teams stops.