Saints re-sign Haralson, Graham

METAIRIE, La. -- The New Orleans Saints have re-signed veteran linebacker Parys Haralson and kicker Shayne Graham to one-year contracts. Terms were not disclosed.

Haralson, 31, has proved to be a nice fit as a part-time starter for the Saints since they acquired him for a seventh-round pick in 2013 in a late-August trade with the San Francisco 49ers. Haralson has played in every regular-season game over the past two years, making a total of 20 starts with 65 tackles and 6.5 sacks.

The 6-foot, 255-pounder is primarily used as a run defender in the Saints' 3-4 alignments. His snap count increased slightly this past season, from about 37 percent in 2013 to closer to 50 percent in 2014.

Graham's re-signing appears to be a vote of confidence for the 37-year-old journeyman after he seemed to be on shaky footing late last season. Graham made 19 of 22 field goal attempts in 2014, and he was named the NFC special-teams player of the month after a perfect 9-for-9 stretch in October. But the Saints brought in a group of kickers for tryouts in December, in part to "challenge" Graham, before eventually signing young kicker Dustin Hopkins to a futures contract.

Assuming the Saints don't sign any other challengers, Graham will have to fend off Hopkins in training camp this year like he did with youngster Derek Dimke last summer.

Before joining the Saints, Haralson spent seven years in San Francisco, five of them as a starter, although he missed the entire 2012 season with a triceps injury.

Even with Haralson back on board, the Saints likely will make it a priority to add some youth and athleticism to the outside linebacker spot for a defense that struggled mightily in 2014.

Despite lofty expectations, New Orleans' defense was by far the least efficient in the NFL, according to a formula used by ESPN Stats & Information. The Saints finished in the bottom five in the league in total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, takeaways, third-down conversions and red zone percentage.

Junior Galette is New Orleans' only proven pass-rusher at the outside linebacker position, and he could be facing a suspension after a January domestic violence arrest that is still going through the legal process.

Meanwhile, interior linebackers Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber are veteran players with similar skill sets to Haralson -- better against the run than in pass coverage. Hawthorne is a potential salary-cap casualty, and Humber is an unsigned free agent.

Graham has been with the Saints since late in the 2013 season, when he was signed to replace longtime former kicker Garrett Hartley. Graham quickly earned hero status by making all four of his field goal attempts, including the game winner, in a 26-24 playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. But he missed two long kicks in tough weather conditions a week later in a playoff loss at Seattle.

Graham has bounced around the NFL with nine different teams since 2001, making 85.5 percent of his kicks. His longest stretch came with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2002-09. He actually began his NFL career with the Saints in summer 2000 but didn't crack the roster.

Haralson's re-signing was earlier reported by Yahoo! Sports, while Graham's was earlier reported by Fox Sports.