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NFL - US Sports: Saints net safety after Ravens swoop for starter

The New Orleans Saints have moved quickly to replace former starting safety Marcus Williams, who agreed to join the Baltimore Ravens on the second day of legal tampering, by pencilling in a deal for the New York Jets' impending free agent Marcus Maye.

Both deals look set to be ratified on Wednesday when the new league season, for which the Ravens and Saints are 20/1 and 40/1 respectively to win the Super Bowl, officially begins.

Defensive reinforcements needed

The Saints needed to fill a gaping hole in their defensive backfield that opened up when they decided to let Williams, who tallied 312 tackles, 15 interceptions, 38 passes defended and three forced fumbles during his time in the Big Easy, hit free agency.

The 25-year-old is one of six players with two-plus interceptions in the past five seasons and was rated as the top safety on this year's open market.

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He was believed to be holding out for a deal worth $17m annually, but dropped his price eventually to agree a five-year, $70 million contract that includes $37m in guaranteed money, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported.

Maye and the Saints agreed a three-year, $28.5 million deal with $15 million guaranteed, according to NFL Network's Mike Garafolo, Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport.

The 29-year-old played under the franchise tag in 2021 but missed over half the season after suffering a torn Achilles in Week 9.

Whitehead through the door

The Jets agreed a deal with former Super Bowl-winning safety Jordan Whitehead to replace the outgoing Maye.

The AFC East team are committing a two-year deal worth $14.5 million to the 24-year-old.

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