Saints sign free agent RB Julius Jones

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints decided they needed a new running back more than two field goal kickers.

Hoping to boost a running game that ranks 31st in the NFL through five games, the Saints on Tuesday signed former Seattle Seahawks running back Julius Jones and released 46-year-old kicker John Carney.

Carney signed with the Saints in late September to fill in for struggling kicker Garrett Hartley -- who was inactive the past two weeks but now is poised to reclaim the job with Carney's departure. Carney made five of six field goal attempts in two games, missing the final one -- from 29 yards out -- late in the third quarter of the Saints' 30-20 loss at Arizona on Sunday.

Jones was the Seahawks' leading rusher the past two seasons, gaining 663 yards last season and 698 yards in 2008.

The Saints are averaging only 75.6 yards rushing per game. They have played the last three games without Reggie Bush, who is recovering from a broken bone in his right leg, and the last two games without Pierre Thomas, who hurt his left ankle.

Veteran Ladell Betts and undrafted rookie Chris Ivory have gotten all the work at running back the last two games, and Saints coach Sean Payton said as recently as Monday that he had no plans to look for another option at the position.

"These are guys that we have a lot of confidence in," Payton said Monday of Betts and Ivory. "I felt a week ago that Ladell played very well. ... I thought Chris ran hard [Sunday]. We'll keep coaching them. These are our guys. There's no one walking in here to save the day on the street right now."

The coach's stance apparently shifted on Tuesday, when the Saints also announced that they signed safety Matt Giordano, a free agent, and waived reserve running back DeShawn Wynn.

Giordano is a six-year veteran who played four seasons with Indianapolis. The Saints must play at least one more week without free safety Darren Sharper, who began the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list. New Orleans also lost reserve safety Chris Reis to a season-ending shoulder injury two weeks ago.

Wynn has played in four games for the Saints this year and made two tackles on special teams.