Ex-Rams tackle gets $4 million signing bonus

Grabbing a player who figures to be one of the best bargains in free agency, the New Orleans Saints have reached contract agreement with defensive tackle Brian Young, ESPN.com has learned.

Provided he passes a physical examination, which should be nothing more than a formality, Young will sign a four-year contract worth slightly more than $10 million, including a signing bonus of $4 million. He becomes the second player rated among ESPN.com's top "sleepers" in free agency to move to the Saints, joining tailback Aaron Stecker.

Young, 26, is a big-motor player whose statistics belie his productivity. St. Louis chose the former Texas-El Paso standout with a fifth-round pick in the 2000 draft, and he started for the Rams in two of his four seasons.

Rams officials consistently tried to find players to supplant Young, but he could not be budged, and generally logged more playing time than first-round draft choices Damione Lewis and Ryan Pickett. St. Louis defensive line coach Bill Kollar loves players with Young's intensity and energy, so the veteran's departure will be a loss.

Part of the avid interest of New Orleans officials, who began recruiting Young at the outset of the free agency period Wednesday, revolves around their desire to import a veteran who could serve as leader and mentor to some of their young defensive linemen. Young should fit that description and be an active interior defender with good quickness and penetration skills.

New Orleans parted with two veteran tackles, Norman Hand and Grady Jackson, over the past year and was left with a young tackle corps. Young should be a good influence on those tackles and, in the bigger picture, on a team that has underachieved the past several seasons.

Young started in 31 of his 59 appearances with the Rams. He totaled 116 tackles, 10½ sacks, four forced fumbles, an interception and seven pass deflections.