James Laurinaitis to visit with New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, report says

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Nov 15, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (55) is introduced to the crowd prior to a game against the Chicago Bears at the Edward Jones Dome. The Bears won the game 37-13. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 15, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (55) is introduced to the crowd prior to a game against the Chicago Bears at the Edward Jones Dome. The Bears won the game 37-13. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports /
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James Laurinaitis is scheduled to visit with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday, according to reports.

After spending seven seasons with the St. Louis Rams (now Los Angeles), linebacker James Laurinaitis was released last week.  He is now reportedly flying to the Big Easy on Monday night for a Tuesday meeting with the New Orleans Saints.

An NFL All-Rookie and Rams Rookie of the Year in 2009, James Laurinaitis has racked up 852 combined tackles, 16.5 sacks, 34 passes defended, ten interceptions, and two forces fumbles since taking his talents to the National Football League by way of Ohio State.

Now, it is a bit of a head scratcher as to why the Saints are showing interest in Laurinaitis.  He was PFF’s second-worst graded linebacker in 2015 on a Rams defense that saw a massive decline from the year prior.  And overall, he just doesn’t fit the current scheme down on the bayou.

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Would he back up Stephone Anthony at middle linebacker?  If so, he better come extremely cheap.  Will Anthony switch positions?  Do the Saints feel James Laurinaitis can play the weakside?  Will they put him at strongside linebacker and move Hau’oli Kikaha to defensive end?  Or does New Orleans plan on switching back to a 3-4 scheme? 

Questions emerge, but reports say the Saints are looking to sign a veteran inside linebacker.  And it makes sense after releasing David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber.

James Laurinaitis without question had a solid campaign with the Rams as a tackling machine and team captain, but he showed major signs of slowing down in 2015, struggling tremendously in both run defense and pass coverage.  I like to compare him to Curtis Lofton — the high tackle totals will distract people from the weaknesses.  Maybe he can revitalize his career with a new team in a city know for it’s “rebirth.”

But the Saints signing him seems like it could be the epitome of their past problems with finding veteran defensive players in the free agent market and them not living up to expectations (see Brandon Browner, Victor Butler, Anthony Spencer, Brodrick Bunkley, David Hawthorne, Jairus Byrd, etc).

For now, James Laurinaitis is just having a little visit in New Orleans.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens when the free agency period rolls around March 9.  You never know, he could come in and be a game changer, but it’s just difficult to see that at the moment.

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