New Orleans Saints

Stadium: Mercedes-Benz Superdome | Coach: Sean Payton
Team RankingOverallRushingPassing
Offense3rd129.4 (6th)261.8 (5th)
Defense17th111.7 (15th)224.8 (15th)

Saints report: Inside slant

Notes, quotes, anecdotes | Strategy and personnel
The Saints are still in the market for a fullback after the Washington Redskins pulled the rug out from under them.

The Redskins matched the four-year, $4.7 million offer the Saints made to Bryan Johnson, a restricted free agent, and three days later traded him to the Chicago Bears for a sixth-round pick in this year's draft.

After the Redskins announced they would match the offer sheet Johnson signed, using the entire seven-day period they had under league rules, Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said he was disappointed but not surprised at the move.

"Teams are not in the habit of letting good players get away," Loomis said. "That's why most restricted free agents don't change teams very often. It's hard to get an offer sheet done, and it's even harder to get it changed over.

"Obviously, we're disappointed because we would like to have had the kid and we thought we had a chance to get him. We gave it a good shot."

Loomis was probably more disappointed when he found out the Redskins were trading Johnson to the Bears. If the Redskins had declined to match the Saints' offer, they would have received no compensation because Johnson entered the league as an undrafted free agent.

The Saints might have been willing to offer a fifth-round draft pick for Johnson, but team sources said the Redskins did not respond to phone calls inquiring about his availability in a trade.

The Saints currently have two fullbacks on the roster. They are veteran Sam Gash, who signed a one-year contract last month, and Spencer Frederick, an undrafted free agent who spent the 2003 season on injured reserve after being hurt in the preseason.

Loomis said the Saints are still in the market for a fullback to bolster depth after four-year starter Terrelle Smith signed a four-year, $4.4 million contract with the Cleveland Browns.

"We still have a few options," Loomis said. "We still feel good about Sam Gash, but if we can improve ourselves at that position we'll explore that."

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