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Saints appear close to deal with Browns LB Craig Robertson

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints keep loading up on linebackers in the second wave of free agency.

Sean Payton said during a Tuesday night interview with WWL Radio that the Saints have added former Cleveland Browns linebacker Craig Robertson -- though a source said no deal has been finalized.

The two sides are "working on a deal," according to the source.

Robertson, 28, started 37 games over the past four seasons -- a remarkable feat considering he went undrafted out of North Texas in 2011 and didn’t even get a training camp invite before he joined the Browns’ practice squad that December.

The 6-foot-1, 234-pounder has primarily been used as an inside linebacker in Cleveland’s 3-4 alignment -- and the Saints are suddenly loaded with depth at the position after also signing veteran middle linebacker James Laurinaitis and versatile backup Nathan Stupar over the past week.

Payton said the Saints have not yet decided exactly how they will line up all of their linebackers, though he stressed that last year’s rookie middle linebacker Stephone Anthony will remain a starter, even if that means moving positions.

"The one thing we really felt like we needed was that veteran player who has a great grasp of what we’re doing defensively and what we’re seeing offensively," Payton said of Laurinaitis, whom he referred to as a "quarterback" of the defense.

Payton then mentioned veteran weakside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and the additions of Stupar and Robertson.

"Those are two other younger players that we’ve seen real good tape in the kicking game. We've also seen them play in the base and in the sub," said Payton, who added that second-year outside linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha will likely be used even more as an outside edge rusher.

Robertson has been a solid inside linebacker who has improved his pass coverage skills each season. He has a total of 336 tackles, 4 sacks and 6 interceptions in his career.

He played in 12 games last year, with nine starts, 59 tackles, 1 interception, 5 passes broken up, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery.

ESPN Cleveland Browns reporter Pat McManamon contributed to this report.