Sharper signs with New Orleans

In what came as little surprise to those following free agency this offseason, the New Orleans Saints upgraded at their troubled safety position Wednesday afternoon, signing former Viking Darren Sharper.

In what seem like a predictable move over the past few days, the New Orleans Saints announced that they have signed former Vikings safety Darren Sharper.

Terms of the contract were not immediately disclosed. The Saints will be Sharper's third team in his 13-year career. He spent his first eight seasons with the Packers and the last four seasons with the Vikings. He is expected to step right into a starting job since his veteran leadership and a pressing need at safety make him a natural fit with the Saints.

"We are pleased to announce the addition of Darren to our team," said executive vice president/general manager Mickey Loomis. "Darren is an accomplished veteran player that brings a wealth of knowledge and ability to our secondary and has always possessed outstanding instincts and playmaking skills."

Sharper met with the Saints two weeks ago, but it seemed logical that the two parties were going to get together. Sharper made his only personal free-agent visit to the Saints and, after veteran safety Gerald Sensabaugh, who also made a free agent visit to New Orleans, signed a deal with the Cowboys, it appeared as though was just a matter of time before Sharper signed with the Saints. It didn't hurt that his agent represents several top Saints players.

The signing of Sharper marks the second 2008 Vikings starter to move on to another team. Earlier this month, center Matt Birk signed a three-year deal with the Ravens.

Sharper, 33, leads all active NFL players in interceptions with 54 and has been selected to four Pro Bowls during his 12-year NFL career. The veteran defender played eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers after being selected in the second round of the 1997 NFL Draft with the 60th overall selection. He moved to the Minnesota Vikings as an unrestricted free agent in 2005, where he has spent the past four seasons.

The 6-2, 210-pound product of William & Mary has played in 183 career regular season games, with 167 starts to his credit, and has racked up 992 tackles, 140 passes defensed, 54 interceptions, nine forced fumbles, seven sacks and seven fumble recoveries.

Sharper started all 16 regular season games for the NFC North Champion Vikings in 2008 as well as their playoff game, making 78 tackles with one interception, five passes defensed, a forced fumble and a pair of fumble recoveries.

Sharper has returned eight career interceptions returned for touchdowns during his career (tied for the fifth-most in NFL history), and he has also tacked on two fumble recoveries for scores.

In 10 career postseason games, Sharper has started seven of the contests and registered 50 career tackles, 10 passes defensed, two-and-a-half sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles. He played in Super Bowl XXXII as a rookie with the Packers.

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