Agency: Veteran safety Roman Harper returning to Saints

METAIRIE, La. (AP) Safety Roman Harper has agreed to a free-agent contract with the New Orleans Saints, the club with which he spent his first eight NFL seasons.

SportsTrust, the agency which represents the 33-year old Harper, confirmed on Tuesday that his agreement with the Saints is for one season. Financial terms were not disclosed.

New Orleans made Harper a second-round draft choice out of Alabama in 2006, which was also coach Sean Payton's first year with the club. He was part of New Orleans' only championship in the 2009 season and was named to Pro Bowls for the 2009 and 2010 seasons. He left New Orleans in 2014, playing the past two seasons with Carolina.

Last season, Harper was in on 73 solo or assisted tackles, including two tackles for losses, and recovered two fumbles for a defense that helped carry Carolina to the Super Bowl. The Panthers fell to Denver in the championship game.

Harper has 11 career interceptions, including a career-high four two seasons ago. He did not have an interception last season.

Harper was a starter during his first stint in New Orleans, but likely will return in a different role. New Orleans still has both starting safeties from last season - Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd. The Saints also used one of two second-round draft choices this spring to select safety Vonn Bell out of Ohio State.

But Rafael Bush, a regular reserve at safety for New Orleans in recent seasons, left in free agency, giving the Saints a reason to pursue a free agent who could provide depth, experience and leadership.

Harper was known for all of those things by the time he left New Orleans following the club's last playoff appearance three seasons ago, and his return coincides with the ascension this offseason of assistant coach Dennis Allen to defensive coordinator. Allen, who returned to New Orleans as a senior assistant in 2015 after several seasons with other clubs, was the Saints' secondary coach during Harper's Pro Bowl seasons.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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