Saints land Bengals free-agent safety Kaesviharn

Updated: March 13, 2007, 9:57 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The New Orleans Saints on Tuesday night added a proven playmaker to their secondary, signing unrestricted free-agent safety Kevin Kaesviharn to a four-year contract worth $10 million, a deal that includes a $3.25 million signing bonus.

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The six-year veteran, who played his entire career in Cincinnati before going into the free-agent market, chose the Saints over the Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. Kaesviharn, 30, was one of the top players remaining in the unrestricted pool and garnered plenty of interest from the outset of the signing period.

"Kevin will be a good addition to our group of safeties from a productivity standpoint on the field in addition to being a leader for our young players," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said in a statement released Tuesday announcing the signing. "He has been a solid, consistent player for the Bengals for several years and a good influence in the locker room. Kevin is the kind of player we were looking for to add to our mix on defense."

Kaesviharn is the second former Cincinnati defensive player signed by the Saints in the free agency period. New Orleans last week added linebacker Brian Simmons after the Bengals released him. Simmons will challenge for the starting job at middle linebacker.

New Orleans already had acceptable depth at safety, but Roman Harper, a starter as a rookie in 2006, is coming off a torn knee ligament. Plus the Saints' coaches wanted to add a defender with good coverage skills and a history of being able to take the ball away from opposition offenses.

A late bloomer, Kaesviharn has developed into just such a player, as evidenced by his six interceptions, the league high for all safeties in 2006. He also had four sacks last season.

A former Augustana (S.D.) College star, Kaesviharn should also provide the Saints more flexibility in the secondary. Counted among his 45 career starts were starting assignments at free safety, strong safety, nickel safety and both cornerback positions.

He is a solid hitter versus the run but has enough cover skills to move out and line up against receivers in the slot. Kaesviharn was strictly a special teams performer early in his career but emerged a few years ago as a top-shelf nickel defender.

In 87 games, Kaesviharn has 363 tackles, 15 interceptions, 28 passes defensed, six sacks, two forced fumbles and four recoveries.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.