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JOESAM2002 09-05-2003 09:06 AM

N.O. gave pair of free agents its best shot .....
Saints News

N.O. gave pair of free agents its best shot

Thursday September 04, 2003

By Brian Allee-Walsh
Staff writer

Saints officials stepped to the plate for two veteran free agents -- safety Lawyer Milloy and running back Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala -- but swung and missed in both cases.

Milloy, a four-time Pro Bowl selection with the New England Patriots, agreed in principle Wednesday to a four-year deal with the Buffalo Bills. Fuamatu-Ma'afala, who played five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, signed a two-year contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said the team made competitive offers to both players.

"We don't have any hesitation or doubt about (Saints strong safety) Jay Bellamy because we know he's a good player, and we expect him to play well," Loomis said. "But it's unusual to have a guy of Lawyer's ability available at this juncture of the season and we had an opportunity to go after him, so we did.

"We were in the mix. It was our understanding that Lawyer's agent would give us a chance to counter, but we never got a callback from him."

Fuamatu-Ma'afala visited with Saints officials Monday and Tuesday before settling on Jacksonville, where he might have a better opportunity of getting on the field playing behind Fred Taylor than in New Orleans playing behind Deuce McAllister.

"Chris really liked New Orleans," said Fuamatu-Ma'afala's agent, Mike Sullivan. "Mickey made us a very good offer, but he didn't want to shuffle his roster until next week. We had a very generous offer from Jacksonville, one involving guaranteed money for a year. So, it was the bird-in-the-hand business approach from our standpoint."

Milloy, who also was considering an offer from the Washington Redskins, is expected to play Sunday against his former team.

"(Milloy) is a heck of a football player," Saints coach Jim Haslett said. "I think any team would love to have him, but I am just trying to coach the team that we have right now."

MITCHELL UPDATE: Saints strong safety Mel Mitchell, who's scheduled for reconstructive knee surgery Tuesday, said Miami Dolphins quarterback Sage Rosenfels did not intentionally try to hurt him on a roll block during the first quarter of their exhibition game a week ago at the Superdome.

"A lot of people think it was the surface, but I don't think it had anything to do with the turf," Mitchell said. "From what (Dolphins safety) Sammy Knight told me, the guy didn't mean to roll into me. (Rosenfels) thought I was going to open up to him to where he could block me. That was good to hear that he didn't mean to do it."

Mitchell said he heard a "popping noise" in his left knee at impact, and an MRI exam confirmed it was the anterior cruciate ligament.

Mitchell said he is scheduled to go through four to six months of rehabilitation.

"You have a day off after surgery, so you get it and you hit it," Mitchell said. "You get it and hit it. You start getting your range of motion immediately and then attack it from there."

INJURY REPORT: Ten players are on this week's list filed with the league office. Tackle P.J. Alexander (shoulder), safety Steve Gleason (knee/shoulder), linebacker Roger Knight (hip) and wide receiver Donté Stallworth (hamstring) are probable; defensive end Charles Grant (calf), safety Michael Hawthorne (shoulder) and tight end Walter Rasby (calf) are questionable; defensive tackle Henry Ford (ankle) and defensive end Darren Howard (knee) are doubtful; and linebacker Cie Grant (knee) is out.

All but Ford and Grant worked out Wednesday.

Barring setbacks, Howard and Charles Grant are expected to start against the Seahawks.

ETC.: Approximately 21,000 tickets remain for Sunday's season opener at Seahawks Stadium. Capacity is 67,000. By comparison, 4,400 tickets remain for the Saints' home opener against the Houston Texans on Sept. 14. . . . Seattle safety Terreal Bierria, a second-year player who prepped at Salmen High School, will not play Sunday because of an injured shoulder.

pakowitz 09-05-2003 09:36 AM

N.O. gave pair of free agents its best shot .....
hey joe.. ur a lil late with that post... as it was already posted yesterday

JOESAM2002 09-05-2003 10:04 AM

N.O. gave pair of free agents its best shot .....
Hey, it\'s not my fault! I\'m still asleep. LOL

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