Inside the Victor Riley and Willie Whitehead Deal

This past week, the New Orleans Saints signed UFA RT Victor Riley to a two year deal worth $2.7 million that will likely become a one year deal after the 2002 season and they signed RFA Willie Whitehead to his one year tender of $563,000. However, SaintsInsider has gone inside each negotiation to bring you what went on between the Saints and Riley and the Saints and Whitehead.

This past week, the New Orleans Saints signed UFA RT Victor Riley to a two year deal worth $2.7 million that will likely become a one year deal after the 2002 season and they signed RFA Willie Whitehead to his one year tender of $563,000. However, SaintsInsider has gone inside each negotiation to bring you what went on between the Saints and Riley and the Saints and Whitehead.

The Saints and Victor Riley came to terms on a two year contract worth $2.7 million with a $1.2 million signing bonus on Thursday afternoon. The second year of the deal is voidable if Riley hits certain performance incentives and according Riley's agent, Pat Dye Jr., the incentives should be easy to hit. "The odds of the contract making it the full two years are very slim," said Dye. " Victor would have to fall of the face of the earth for that second year not to be voidable."

One big concern with Riley is his off the field issues. In May 2001, he was charged with aggrivated assault, among others for slamming his SUV into another vehicle which was occupied by his wife and daughter. "Victor is eager to get back on the field and play well and show that what happened last May was not something that will happen again. He wants to move forward and start new and we feel this could be a long relationship with the Saints," Dye said. "Ideally, we'd like to get a long-term contract and have Victor here in New Orleans until he retires," said Dye. "He's one of the top 3 or 4 RT's in the NFL and Michael Strahan has said publicly that Riley is the toughest player he has gone against in years."

Bottom line is that if Riley is only here for a year, it won't do the team much good. If Riley can play to the level he is capable of, expect a long term deal to be done early in the off-season next year.

The Saints also made official that restricted FA DE Willie Whitehead signed his one year tender worth $563,000. Whitehead, who has been one of the top reserve DE's in the NFL over the past three years, is slated to start at one of the DE spots, likely RDE. Darren Howard will likely move over to LDE and Whitehead and one of the Saints newest rookies will play the RDE spot.

Whitehead's agent, Terry Bolar, told SaintsInsider that they wanted a 4-5 year contract with the Saints, but the Saints only offered a three year deal which was, according to Bolar, "a slap in the face." "In all liklihood, this is Willie's final year in New Orleans," said Bolar. "Next year we will test the UFA waters and Willie will get what he is worth."

The Saints will likely draft a DE in the first round of the draft. The three names to remember are Charles Grant, Kalimba Edwards, and Bryan Thomas. One of these three will be teaming up with Whitehead at RDE and Darren Howard at LDE. The Saints should have a much better rotation along the defensive line this year.

Be sure to check back to SaintsInsider over the next two weeks! We will be covering the Saints draft inside and out and will bring you the most comprehensive coverage found anywhere.


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