Orlando Franklin happy to join Saints after 'tough two years' with Chargers

METAIRIE, La. -- Orlando Franklin had to wait longer than he wanted. But the veteran guard is finally getting a fresh start with the New Orleans Saints after what he called "a tough two years for me" with the Los Angeles Chargers.

"I actually asked to get out of there, to be honest with you," said Franklin, who was released by the Chargers in May after they drafted guards in Rounds 2 and 3. "I asked them to trade me in March, and we weren't able to get a trade. And they were able to release me after the draft, when they got guys they felt were the future.

"So I'm just happy to be here, happy for this opportunity. ... I'm happy to be with a new team and new surroundings."

Franklin, 29, worked out with the Jacksonville Jaguars shortly after he was released in May. But he acknowledged that he "kind of tried to force" that workout "because I really wanted to get on a team," even though his knee wasn't totally healed from a January surgery.

"But after that I realized my knee wasn't ready, and after talking with my agent, we decided to wait until around the time training camp started," said Franklin, who also worked out with the New York Jets before working out for and signing with the Saints.

Franklin (6-foot-6, 315 pounds) was released by the Chargers just two years into a five-year, $36.5 million contract, thanks to injuries and inconsistent performance.

He missed six games in 2015 because of a high ankle sprain and MCL knee sprain. He also later acknowledged he wasn't in his best shape heading into that 2015 season.

"I got hurt right away, and I've been trying to battle through injuries, and just never really going into games 100 percent, never really going into a season 100 percent," Franklin said of why things didn't work out in San Diego.

He did start all 16 games last season, however, before having the January procedure to repair the lingering knee issue.

Franklin began his career as a second-round draft pick with the Denver Broncos in 2011. And he had a successful four-year run there as a full-time starter -- first as a right tackle, then as a left guard. He was the starting right tackle for the Broncos team that reached the Super Bowl in Peyton Manning's first season there.

Sean Payton said the Saints had high grades on Franklin when he was a free agent in 2015, so he stayed on their radar. And now they could use a little offensive-line depth with veterans Terron Armstead, Max Unger and Senio Kelemete all nursing injuries.

Franklin, who practiced Saturday as the second-string left guard behind Andrus Peat, will now add Drew Brees to a list of quarterbacks he's played with, along with Manning and Philip Rivers. That's another reason he was excited to land in New Orleans.

"I've been a part of offenses where the quarterbacks have a beautiful mind," Franklin said. "So I'm excited to get in there. I mean, I haven't worked with Drew at all, but I know the caliber and how he plays. And I know that he's a person that's going to demand a lot of his teammates, so it's definitely exciting for me."