Saints center Jonathan Goodwin happy to be coming home
Jonathan Goodwin's role might still be undecided, but he's happy to be back in a place he describes as his second home
Brett Davis / USA TODAY Sports
By Dan Schneier
Last week in his press conference wrapping up the first week of OTAs, Sean Payton discussed the center position as one that the team will rotate in younger players at during OTAs. Payton was pleased with how second-year interior lineman Tim Lelito handled the transition to center, but admitted that he wanted to wait until contact drills in training camp got underway to really gauge his transition. Less than a week later, the New Orleans Saints signed veteran free agent center Jonathan Goodwin.
Goodwin was last with the Saints in 2010, and he spent five seasons with the team, three of which he served as a starter (2008-10), after signing as an unrestricted free agent in 2006. This time around, he signed a one-year, $1.02 million deal that will count $635,000 against the Saints' cap, according to rules in place that promote the signing of veteran players to minimum-benefit deals.
For Goodwin, signing with the Saints this offseason was a lot easier than leaving them during the 2011 offseason to play for the 49ers.
"I consider New Orleans a second home. It was tough to leave that first time around, and I even changed my mind twice about leaving back in 2011," said Goodwin, in an interview today, following the team's final practice during this week's OTA session. "It's rare to come back to a team later down the line. I always wanted to retire a Saint and this makes it easier."
Goodwin's signing does not rule out the possibility of Lelito winning the starting job. In this week's OTAs, Lelito continued to work with the first-team offense and Goodwin took snaps with the second team.
Goodwin also sees an opportunity to expand on his role as a teammate and leader. Goodwin said that he is looking forward to mentoring Lelito in the way that he previously mentored Daniel Kilgore, who was his backup when he was with the 49ers.
Although the personnel are made up of some different faces, not much has changed with the offensive scheme and terminology.
"There's been a few instances where I've heard a new word and asked a question, but I've been able to pick up on the counts and the play calls as if I had never left," Goodwin added.
Offensive line coach Bret Ingalls agreed, claiming that Goodwin remembers a lot of what the team did before, and that he quickly absorbs and executes anything that is new to him.
I wouldn't put it past Goodwin to quickly move up to the first team offense in practice and reclaim the starting role for good.
Goodwin had maintained his high level of play during his stint with the 49ers. According to Pro Football Focus, Goodwin finished in the top 15 overall at his position last season, earning an exceptionally high grade as a run blocker. He graded out even better in 2012, finishing as in the top 10 at his position, and again registering a dominant grade as a run blocker.
Regardless of who ends up winning the starting job, Goodwin is confident that Saints fans will nothing to worry about from the position that begins every play.
"This team will be straight at the center position," Goodwin added.
You can find Goodwin's discussion with the media in its entirety here.
For more on the Saints, you can follow Dan Schneier on Twitter @DanSchneier_NFL. He will be tweeting out nuggets from OTAs and training camp all offseason long. You can also "Like" him on Facebook, or add him to your network through Google.
Also feel free to contact him directly through email with any questions or concerns at Dan.Schneier27@gmail.com.