Free agent defensive end Turk McBride has agreed to contract terms with the New Orleans Saints, adding depth at a position where the Saints may need it in the beginning of the season.
The addition of the 6-foot-2, 278-pound McBride, a five-year veteran who has started 12 games during the past two seasons for the Detroit Lions, was confirmed by Saints spokesman Greg Bensel on Sunday night.
Terms were not released.
The Saints are expecting starting defensive end Will Smith to be suspended for the first four games of the season, stemming from his use of StarCaps weight-loss pills that resulted in Smith and other players testing positive in 2008 for a substance banned by the NFL because it masks steroid use.
The NFL had delayed suspending any players in the matter while Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams and former teammate Pat Williams were involved in a long state court fight over their positive tests for the banned diuretic bumetanide. They argued that the supplement StarCaps did not include the ingredient on its label.
In April, the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Pat Williams. That appeared to clear the way for them to be suspended for the first four games of 2011.
The new collective bargaining agreement may factor into the enforcement of the suspension. The league and the NFLPA are still talking about several facets of the deal, including the drug policy.
If all of the suspensions are upheld, the Saints’ Smith, who is expected to practice and play throughout the preseason, would miss the first four games of the season.
”From the impression I have, that is what’s going to happen,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. ”You just have to make sure you’re rolling guys through (that position) and get Will the (practice) he needs, but also make sure we’re prepared if that (suspension) does happen.”
The Saints also drafted defensive end Cam Jordan with their top draft choice last spring, but he is untested and still unsigned.
Drafted 24th overall, Jordan has missed the first three practices of training camp, but Payton expressed confidence Jordan would not be out much longer.
”It’ll be sooner than later,” Payton said. ”It’s much easier now than it was a year ago.”
Earlier Sunday, the Saints confirmed they had also agreed to terms with cornerback Fabian Washington, adding depth at cornerback while starter Tracy Porter continues his recovery from offseason knee surgery.
Washington is entering his seventh season out of Nebraska. The 28-year-old began his pro career with Oakland in 2005 before moving to Baltimore for the past three seasons.
”Tracy Porter’s nicked up right now and the season is going to be quicker upon us than it normally is,” Payton said. ”So, it’s being smart when you look at all of our numbers. He’s another player that we evaluated when he left Oakland and went to Baltimore. He was one that, as we started this camp, we felt necessary to bring in another veteran corner.”
Washington started eight games for the Ravens last season and had 31 tackles.