The Saints added their second free agent linebacker today, after previously landing A. J. Klein of the Panthers. Manti Te’o has agreed to a 2 year deal with the Saints:
— Mike Triplett (@MikeTriplett) March 21, 2017
Te’o played for the Chargers the last four seasons after being drafted by them in the 2nd round. He was quite good when he played but struggled to stay healthy. His most significant injury was an Achilles tendon tear that kept him out of the majority of last season. So he’s coming back from something very significant.
That said, Te’o’s best year coincided with Saints linebacker coach Mike Nolan being the linebacker coach of the Chargers. It seems clear to me that Nolan put in a good word and felt Te’o could really help the Saints if he can remain healthy. That’s a big “if” given his history, though.
To me it’s still unclear who the starting middle linebacker will be for the Saints. Klein, Te’o, Craig Robertson and Stephone Anthony are all options there and they will battle out for that spot in both camp and preseason. Whoever doesn’t get it, though, will have a chance to compete to start at the other starting spots available… or they could be valuable reserves. With Dannell Ellerbe and Nate Stupar also on the roster, the Saints have six seasoned and experienced vets in the mix. This group doesn’t have stars but it does have six capable players giving Nolan a lot to work with. The Saints would benefit from youthful talent via the draft at linebacker, but signing Te’o means they don’t have to force it.