Saints punter Thomas Morstead figured he had a good command of his value after nine NFL seasons Jets Sam Darnold Jersey , and he had no interest in playing or living anywhere but New Orleans.
Morstead said Friday that he has signed a new five-year, $20 million contract with the Saints.
He told The Associated Press that his new contract begins in the current league year, replacing the final year of his previous contract that was due to expire after next season. The deal guarantees $9 million over the first two seasons and includes the possibility for additional bonuses, Morstead said.
The 32-year-old Morstead served as his own agent on what is his third NFL contract since being drafted in 2009 and helping New Orleans capture its only Super Bowl championship as a rookie.
The Saints ”approached me about doing (a new contract) and we love living in New Orleans,” said Morstead, who is raising a family in the city. ”They extended me early after my third year and they extended me again after my ninth. And I didn’t have any feeling in my body that the grass is greener elsewhere. We love New Orleans. We love our neighbors. I love playing for (Saints coach) Sean (Payton). There’s a tremendous amount of stability and we were thrilled at the chance to stick around.”
Morstead has averaged 47 yards per punt during his career. That ranks third all-time in the NFL, less than a yard behind the averages of the two players ahead of him, Shane Lechler and Johnny Hekker.
Last season, Patriots coach Bill Belichick raved about Morstead before facing the Saints in Week 2, saying the only way to prepare for the Saints punter is to ”take the JUGS machine, crank it up on high and shoot the ball about 65 to 70 yards downfield, a yard from the sideline like he does most of the time. … There are not many guys who can punt the ball like him.”
Morstead said he made the goal of striving for elite consistency ever since retired quarterback Peyton Manning spoke to the Saints during training camp and urged players to think about how they want to be remembered.
”I started kind of outlining qualitative goals about what people would say about me,” Morstead said. ”There’s a lot of value in having a specialist that there’s not a lot of ups and downs with.”
”It’s not just about hitting bombs, hitting high punts,” Morstead added. ”It’s good distance with good hang time in a corner that pins guy with quick get-off. I’m really proud of the standards that we’ve set.”
Morstead also has enjoyed a surge in popularity in Minnesota – if not nationally – since he volunteered to return to the field from the locker room, despite having injured his ribs, so Minnesota could formally complete its dramatic Dallas Goedert Youth Jersey , last-second playoff victory over the Saints by running a required point-after attempt. Morstead was the first Saints player out of the locker room. The Vikings took a knee, not needing to score on the play.
Afterward, Morstead noticed a surge of donations from Minnesota to his What You Give Will Grow foundation, which benefits children undergoing hospital treatment for serious illnesses. Morstead returned to Minneapolis during the Super Bowl to present a check for a little more than $221,000 to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. He also donated $120,000 to similar efforts in Louisiana.
Morstead’s deal is one of a handful of moves by New Orleans since the beginning of free agency on Wednesday. Those include the signings of cornerback Patrick Robinson to what his agent, Ron Butler, said was a four-year, $20 million deal; linebacker Demario Davis to a reported three-year, $24 million contract; and defensive end Alex Okafor to a two-year extension for a reported $10 million.
The Saints have also added veteran quarterback Tom Savage as a potential backup to Drew Brees, who signed a two-year, $50 million extension the day before free agency started.
As major leaguers Trea Turner, Sean Newcomb and Josh Hader face up to racist and homophobic tweets they sent as teenagers, publicist Lauren Walsh recalls how she dealt with a football player who had offensive Facebook posts years before he prepared for the NFL draft.
She went through his whole social media history, taking down any posts that even raised an eyebrow.
Scrubbing tweets, Instagram posts and other comments, captions and status updates has grown into a top priority for LW Branding Youth Josh Rosen Jersey , Walsh's company that has helped 40 NFL athletes with image control in the past 3 1/2 years.
"Any client that we take on, that's generally the first step we do in the process," Walsh said. "This can take someone down in an instant. All it takes is one tweet. Now, he's going to be known for this. This is what people are talking about."
Turner and Newcomb are the latest high-profile athlete s burned by reckless posts from years past. The 25-year-old Newcomb nearly threw a no-hitter for the Braves against the Dodgers on Sunday 鈥?a career defining moment that took a turn when he called reporters back into the clubhouse to apologize for offensive tweets sent in 2011 and 2012, when he was 18.
Homophobic and racially insensitive tweets by Turner from 2011 and 2012 surfaced Sunday night. The 25-year-old Turner, a shortstop for the Washington Nationals, apologized in a statement released by the team.
"I believe people who know me understand those regrettable actions do not reflect my values or who I am," Turner said. "But I understand the hurtful nature of such language and am sorry to have brought any negative light to the Nationals organization, myself or the game I love."
Hader, who pitches for the Milwaukee Brewers, is still in apology mode after tweets from his past surfaced during the All-Star Game this month. He was given a standing ovation in his first game back in Milwaukee, and then booed when the Brewers made their first road trip of the second half of the season in San Francisco.
The trend touches many young athletes, with millions of posts from thousands of players who have been online since they were kids.
Former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen apologized for a series of offensive tweets he sent while in high school that were revealed right before the NFL draft, when the Buffalo Bills selected him seventh overall. As Villanova's Donte DiVincenzo was celebrating being named most outstanding player of the Final Four, some of his old tweets that included racially insensitive and homophobic comments made headlines.
"This stuff happens all the time and it happens when they get their shining moment," Walsh said. "When all of us were 17, we weren't thinking about where we were going to be in our lives seven years down the road."
But athletes should start thinking about the bigger picture Seattle Seahawks Jerseys Womens , as damage from slip-ups can be critical to coaches and executives, Walsh said.
The mistakes by Turner, Hader and Newcomb will be discussed by athletic departments, professional teams, agents and handlers looking to protect themselves and their players. As higher-ups grow more aware of the damage social media mishaps can cause, vetting could become more rigid as a key part of evaluating a multimillion-dollar investment.
"In light of recent events, that's definitely something our staff will discuss to potentially eliminate the chance of a negative situation that puts a student-athlete in a bad light," said Creighton spokesman Rob Anderson, who said he doesn't know of any staffer going through a player's entire social media history.
Varsity Monitor keeps up with social media and offers education programs for 15 Division I schools, including North Carolina, Texas and Florida. Chief executive Joe Purvis said business is at an all-time high since 2010, with sales doubling in the past year.
It's not just athletes who should be wary of their past mistakes, Purvis said.
"Sports recruiters and normal employment recruiters are now looking at social media profiles as well as resumes as a standard of that person's character," he said. "If your social profiles have negative posts, they will assume you are negative."
In the sports world, college might actually be too late to make changes. Social media can factor into whether an athlete is even offered a scholarship.
"We've stopped recruiting someone based on what kind of person he is after coaches had chances to assess everything in their life, including social media 49ers Game Jerseys ," said Georgia Southern spokesman Bryan Johnston.
Most schools designate a member of each team's coaching staff to monitor the social media channels of athletes. But the sheer volume of several hundred athletes per school makes it nearly impossible to keep up with everything.
Many schools have presentations early in the school year to educate students about the importance of being smart about social media. North Carolina brings in Derrick Mayes, a former NFL player and co-founder of 5.0 Communications, for "scared straight" seminars to athletes.
"When the reputation of your university, of your program is judged by what a teenager is doing on social media, the more that you can do to try to minimize those surprises, the better for everybody," North Carolina spokesman Steve Kirschner said.
Walsh suggests athletes and average Joes alike scrub their accounts once a year like a spring cleaning, leaving nothing to chance. And to use social media in a positive way.
"Be authentic," she said. "Define your brand and values. And then, you put out your content."
Even better to make smart decisions to begin with so there's no situation to fix, said Purdue spokesman Tom Schott.
"Once you put it out there, regardless of what you think you've deleted, it's probably going to be out there in some form or fashion," he said.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: CliffBruntAP
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