"The Deuce" now has a new No. 2.
The New Orleans Saints on Friday reached a contract agreement with unrestricted free agent Antowain Smith, providing the team with a dependable and still productive veteran backup to starting tailback Deuce McAllister.
Smith, 33, will sign a one-year contract. Financial details were not yet available, but it is believed the deal includes a base salary of $665,000, the league minimum for a player of Smith's tenure. The eight-year veteran will be playing with his third different team in three seasons.
"He's a strong runner, the kind of big back we wanted to add to our backfield," Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said. "And he is an experienced leader with two Super Bowl rings."
For a team that has often suffered from problems inside its own locker room, and which clearly has underachieved on the field over the past three seasons, the leadership element Smith brings cannot be overlooked. But he also fills a longtime need to acquire a back capable of taking some carries from McAllister, who has been a workhorse for the Saints.
New Orleans has had several candidates attempt to fill the No. 2 tailback spot but Smith is by far the most accomplished. And as he demonstrated in 2004, while serving as the primary backup to Tennessee Titans first-year starter Chris Brown, Smith can still be productive in a limited role.
In 13 games last season, Smith carried 137 times for 509 yards and four touchdowns.
Smith entered the league as a first-round choice of the Buffalo Bills in 1997 and the former University of Houston star will be joining his fourth NFL franchise. After playing four years with the Bills, he signed with New England, where he contributed to two of the Patriots three Super Bowl victories, and then moved on to Tennessee last season.
For his career, Smith has logged 1,618 carries for 6,222 yards and 51 touchdowns. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in both 1998 and 2001 and recorded six or more rushing touchdowns five times. Smith also has 124 receptions for 936 yards and three scores.
He has played in 115 games and started 68 of them.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.