News was released later last night that the Saints had signed former Chicago Bears fullback, Jason McKie, a somewhat surprising but certainly understandable maneuver. Fullback isn't necessarily one of the teams positions of need but with only Heath Evans on the roster, there was no competition ready to push him in training camp.
Since McKie, who just turned 30 on Saturday, was definitely not on my radar, I had to do a little research and find out more about the Saints newest member. Because I'm a nice guy, I've decided to share the findings of that research after the jump in an orderly, easy to read format.
For those of you on Twitter, you'll want to start following Jmack37. Welcome him to Who Dat Nation and tell him Canal Street Chronicles sent you.
Why was he available?
McKie was released from the Bears on March 16th to make room on the roster to sign their new cornerback, Tim Jennings. Chicago has a new offensive coordinator in Mike Martz this season and his system doesn't really utilize the fullback position. McKie himself saw the writing on the wall...
I pretty much knew when Mike Martz was named offensive coordinator that there wasn't going to be a high priority placed on the fullback position.
So the Bears inevitably parted ways with the fullback despite two years remaining on his contract and like many of the signings the team has made this off-season, the Saints have gotten their hands on a quality free agent with no serious strings attached.
What can fans expect on the field?
Self-described as 'multi-talented,' McKie is known as a jack of all trades but also as a master of none. While he may not excel at either running, blocking or pass catching in particular and fans may think he's just 'serviceable,' his versatility to do each well enough combined with his work ethic have made him valuable throughout his career. McKie is certainly to be taken seriously this summer and should offer legitimate competition with Heath Evans during training camp. Also helping his cause: McKie was valuable contributer on Chicago's special teams unit.
What can fans expect off the field?
There are only two words that describe Jason McKie as a person: Class act. A favorite in the locker room, McKie seems to fit right in with the Saints commitment to signing not just players with talent but also with high character. I've pulled some reader comments from the Windy City Gridiron thread announcing his release. I will let them do the talking. If this feels like Deja Vu, it's not.
He was a class act...I wish him the best of luck elsewhere
McKie is a class act,
If you’re reading this Jason, good luck in all your endeavors!
Great guy... Gonna miss him... Class act!
Definetly a class act.
God Bless Jmack
As this article from Chicago Breaking Sports says, McKie acted with class until his very last day with the Bears, even when he had the right not to...
Jason McKie could have walked away disgruntled, considering he had two years remaining on his Bears' contract. Plus, he was a favorite in the locker room, so his release Tuesday surely triggered some emotions among his former teammates.
But instead of lashing out at the organization, the veteran fullback praised head coach Lovie Smith and running backs coach Tim Spencer for giving him the opportunity. McKie thanked the Bears fans for the support and said it was an honor to wear the same helmet Walter Payton once sported.
What is he worth?
Details of McKie's contract have not been released yet but we can look at his previous years salaries and perhaps deduce a ballpark figure.
Now that you're all caught up, it's time to give your own answers about the latest addition to the black & gold. Do you like this signing? And what does it say about the status of Heath Evans? Can we take it to mean that the Saints aren't so confident in the timeline of his recovery?