Agent: Safety Darren Sharper returning to Saints
AP Sports Writer
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – All-Pro safety Darren Sharper is returning to New Orleans for a chance to repeat as Super Bowl champion in 2010.
“He’s real motivated to win another Super Bowl,” said Sharper’s agent, Joel Segal. “It’s rare to have that opportunity and he’s very excited.”
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis also confirmed in an e-mail that Sharper had agreed to terms for one more season. He did not disclose financial terms.
Sharper said in a text message to The Associated Press: “Just wanna tell you I’m extremely happy to be a Saint again. Now we can work on winning another world championship for the city of New Orleans.”
The 34-year-old Sharper intercepted nine passes last season, returning three for touchdowns, and helped the Saints win their first Super Bowl. His total of 376 interception return yards set new NFL single-season high, breaking the mark of 358 yards set by Baltimore’s Ed Reed in 2004. Sharper leads all active NFL players in interceptions with 63, a career total that places him in a tie with Ronnie Lott for sixth on the all-time list. His 11 career interception returns for TDs ranks second to Rod Woodson’s 12. Sharper’s 1,412 career interception return yards ranks second to Woodson’s 1,483.
Sharper was hoping for a multiple year deal, but his negotiating position appeared to weaken when he had minor arthroscopic surgery after the Super Bowl to alleviate swelling in his left knee that bothered him intermittently during the second half of the season.
He talked with other clubs, including Jacksonville last week, before deciding on Monday to remain in New Orleans, where he made several offseason appearances to soak in post-Super Bowl celebrations.
“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.”
Soon after agreeing to terms, Sharper posted a note on his Twitter account, reading: “To the entire WHO-DAT Nation, guess what? I’M BAACKK!”
Sharper will be entering his 14th season out of William & Mary. He spent his first eight NFL season with Green Bay, which drafted him in the second round in 1997. He then played four seasons at Minnesota before joining New Orleans last season.
The agreement represented a fresh dose of good news for the Saints, who for the past few days have been dealing with the fallout from a civil lawsuit alleging the team covered up the theft of Vicodin prescription pills by a senior staff member at the team’s training headquarters.
The Saints have denied those allegations, but the Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed to The Associated Press on Sunday night that the agency was aware of the allegations and that an investigation was pending.
The civil suit, seeking damages and back pay, was filed by a former security director who claims he was compelled to resign because of the team’s handling of the Vicodin episode.