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News » Karney's run with Saints comes to an end 2009-03-06

Karney's run with Saints comes to an end 2009-03-06

Karney's run with Saints comes to an end 2009-03-06
The Saints decided to run in a different direction Thursday, replacing fullback Mike Karney with free-agent veteran Heath Evans.

With Evans, 30, who is 6 feet, 250 pounds, the Saints feel like they will have more athleticism and versatility at the position. He has served as a backup tailback, backup tight end and special teams specialist, in addition to his blocking duties, during his eight years with the Patriots, Dolphins and Seahawks.

"I try to do what's asked of me," said Evans, who agreed to a two-year deal with the Saints. "I always try to tell people I'm not the best at anything, but I think I'm pretty good at a lot of things."

Terms of Evans' deal were not disclosed, but it was likely a financial wash for the Saints. Karney, 27, had two years remaining on his contract at just more than $1 million per year.

Karney officially will be released today -- which also happens to be his wedding day. But even with the unfortunate timing, Karney said there are "no hard feelings," and he appreciates that the Saints are allowing him to enter the free-agent market sooner than later.

"My first reaction is that the writing's been on the wall, so I wasn't surprised or caught off guard," said Karney, who heard the news from Coach Sean Payton on Thursday afternoon. "And I respect the decision that Sean and (General Manager Mickey Loomis) made collectively.

"It's sad, but it's a new beginning. I have great memories of being a New Orleans Saint . I had some great games. I felt I stood tall through the victories and the losses, and I was part of taking an organization to the NFC championship game, which had never been done in the history of the organization. And I met a lot of great people, established a lot of great relationships.

"The fans have been outstanding. Their support for me has been out of this world. It's sad in that respect, but it's time to move on, it's time for a new life. Now it's a new ballgame, and we'll see who's interested."

Karney had plenty of friends and family around for support -- including former Saints backfield mates Deuce McAllister and Aaron Stecker, both of whom also are free agents, and former Saints fullback Lorenzo Neal, who has played for seven teams in his 16-year career.

Karney, a fifth-round draft pick out of Arizona State in 2004, is a traditional power-blocking fullback. But at 5-11, 255, he scored seven touchdowns in his career -- including his unforgettable three-touchdown performance in a 42-17 victory at Dallas in 2006. He was selected a second-team All-Pro that year.

Neither Payton nor Loomis commented on Karney's release since it has not become official yet, but they both raved about what Evans can add to the offense in a statement released by the team.

"Heath is a tireless worker and someone we were very impressed with after spending time with him," Payton said. "He's very excited about the various things we do from an offensive perspective and is a well-rounded and versatile player."

Evans began his career in Seattle as a third-round draft pick out of Auburn, and he had four solid seasons there before signing with Miami as a free agent in 2005.

The Dolphins, however, released him two months into the '05 season, and New England quickly snatched him up.

He ran for a career-high 84 yards on 17 carries against Miami two weeks later as a fill-in tailback for the Patriots. The very next week, he burned the Saints for 74 yards on 16 carries in a 24-17 victory.

Evans said it was difficult to leave New England, but after visiting New Orleans this week, he was swayed.

"To be completely honest with you, it was the head coach; he sealed the deal," Evans said.

"At the end of the day, it just felt like, one, it was nice to be desired by a team that had their kind of success. And sitting with Sean and (running backs coach Bret Ingalls), you see opportunities for what they would like the fullback to be there, and those things excited me. And just turning on the film, maybe there's a possibility of adding to an offense that doesn't really need anything else."

Evans said he became "at peace" with the idea of leaving one great organization for another -- offering the Saints the highest of compliments by comparing them to the Patriots.

He said the quarterbacks are similar, the attitude and makeup of the locker room felt similar, and he said the way Payton runs the team is reminiscent of the way Bill Belichick runs things.

"I knew it was going to take a special, special place to pull me out of Boston," said Evans. "I approached this like a business trip and thought, 'These are the things I know make us successful in New England, the way things are run.' And I saw a lot of similarities."

There were no other free-agent developments for the Saints on Thursday.

Payton also quickly shot down the notion that the Saints might be interested in receiver Terrell Owens or safety Roy Williams, both of whom Dallas released.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 6, 2009

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