Jonathan Goodwin rejoins Saints

The New Orleans Saints have agreed to a deal with former starting center Jonathan Goodwin to a one-year contract.

The deal was finalized Tuesday, with Goodwin expected to join the Saints for OTAs later in the day.

Goodwin, 35, started for the Saints from 2008 to '10, including trips to the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl in '09. He spent the past three years as a starter for the San Francisco 49ers.

Now, Goodwin will try to win his old job back in a battle with second-year pro Tim Lelito. The Saints' starting center job was left vacant when they decided not to re-sign veteran Brian de la Puente in free agency.

Goodwin's return has been long anticipated. But the Saints were apparently waiting until after June 1 -- presumably because it might affect the NFL's formula for calculating compensatory draft selections.

Goodwin obviously is no longer in his prime, as the 49ers decided to let him go as they moved on with younger alternatives.

However, the 6-foot-3, 318-pounder remained a serviceable starter for a team that reached the NFC Championship Game last season. And it's hard to imagine a better fit from an experience standpoint.

Goodwin thanked the 49ers and their fans with a goodbye tweet Tuesday afternoon.

Not only did Goodwin already prove to be a great fit in New Orleans' offense and locker room, but he also spent his last three years with the team calling the shots for one of the NFL's most sophisticated and successful run-blocking schemes.

It should be a tight battle all the way through the preseason between Goodwin and Lelito. Lelito has started only two NFL games -- both at guard last season -- after cracking the Saints' roster as an undrafted free agent out of Grand Valley State.

However, the Saints are high on Lelito's potential, and he's had this entire offseason to prepare for his new role while also developing chemistry with the first-string offense on the practice field.

Suddenly the Saints' biggest question mark heading into this offseason seems to have more options -- and more optimism -- surrounding it.