As expected, the New Orleans Saints have made their first free agency pickup by signing cornerback Keenan Lewis to a five-year deal.
Saints vice president of communication, Greg Bensel, broke the news via Twitter:
Saints Sign CB Keenan Lewis To Five-Year DealFor Immediate Release: March 14, (cont) tl.gd/lab2rs— Greg Bensel (@GregBensel) March 14, 2013
This is a huge signing. Lewis was one of the top free agent cornerbacks available this year. He should instantly improve the Saints secondary.
Below is the official statement from the Saints, with quotes from Loomis and Lewis.
The New Orleans Saints announced today that they have signed unrestricted free agent CB Keenan Lewis to a five-year contract. The announcement was made by Saints' Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis.
"We are excited to be able to add a player of Keenan's ability to our defense," Loomis said. "He was a top free agent target for us and I know that he is very excited to be able to come home to play football."
"I'm very excited to be able to come back to my hometown," Lewis said. "Having grown up here I understand the passion that the fans have for the Saints and I'm blessed to be able to have the chance to play in front of them here in the future. I had a great visit with the Saints and am thankful for the time I spent with the Pittsburgh Steelers and wish them continued success."
Lewis, 6-0, 208 pounds, is a New Orleans native who prepped at O. Perry Walker High School and broke into the NFL as a third round draft pick (96th overall) in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Steelers where he spent the last four seasons. Lewis played his collegiate football at Oregon State, where he was a four-year starter for the Beavers.
Over the course of his four-year professional career, Lewis has played in 45 career regular season games, making 17 starts, and has registered 112 tackles (95 solo), one interception return for nine yards, 34 passes defensed and one forced fumble. On special teams he has chipped in 13 tackles and one forced fumble.
Lewis moved into the starting lineup for the first time in 2012, opening all 16 contests for the Steelers at left cornerback and posted 78 tackles (63 solo), an NFL-leading 28 passes defensed and one forced fumble for the NFL's top-ranked defense both overall and against the pass. He set career-highs in both tackles and passes defensed.
While at Oregon State, Lewis appeared in 50 games with 48 starts and was one of the team's top playmakers. He recorded career totals of 117 tackles (81 solo), seven interception returns, one for a touchdown, 30 passes defensed, one sack and one forced fumble. Lewis was a four-time Academic All-Pac 10 choice and received All-Pac 10 honorable mention as a senior, when he recorded 35 tackles and led the Beavers with four interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, for a unit that ranked second in the conference in total defense and third in pass defense.