The New Orleans Saints plucked another defensive back from the Canadian Football League on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year contract with former Toronto Argonauts safety Marcus Ball.
Ball (6-foot-1, 209 pounds) will compete for a roster spot as a backup safety and special-teamer. The Saints certainly had a void there, with only three other safeties on the roster (Jairus Byrd, Kenny Vaccaro and still unsigned restricted free agent Rafael Bush).
Ball’s signing shouldn’t affect the Saints’ interest in veteran cornerback Champ Bailey in any way. It’s unknown if the Saints have offered Bailey a contract. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Tuesday that Bailey had planned to visit at least one other team, depending on how things went with the Saints.
Ball is the second CFL transfer the Saints have signed this offseason, following former Calgary Stampeders cornerback Derrius Brooks.
Ball was listed as a linebacker for the Argonauts. But he essentially played the same type of attacking strong safety role Roman Harper played in previous years for the Saints, according to Stampeders assistant general manager John Murphy, a longtime football scout based out of Metairie, La.
Ball began his college career at Florida State, but he was one of the athletes caught up in a wide-ranging academic fraud scandal. He finished his college career at Memphis. He then became a standout player for two seasons in Toronto with 142 tackles, seven sacks, four interceptions, two touchdown returns and three fumble recoveries.
“He was highly productive the past two years as both a defender and on special teams,” Murphy said. “He’s been timed in the mid-4.5s [in the 40-yard dash]. A very good hitter in the open field and created a large number of turnovers. He showed the ability to make plays as a blitzer and was also a team leader.”