Sean Payton: Jonathan Goodwin, Tim Lelito will compete at center


The Saints signed one of the top available centers this week, adding Jonathan Goodwin, who has five seasons of previous experience with New Orleans. Pull up the starting lineup for the Saints’ win in Super Bowl XLIV, and Goodwin is right in the middle of an offensive line that gave Drew Brees the time to complete 32-of-39 passes in his MVP-winning performance.

Given Goodwin’s history with the Saints, and given that his primary competitor for the job (Tim Lelito) has just two career starts to his credit, it’s perhaps logical to wonder if Goodwin will eventually capture the starting role.

However, Saints coach Sean Payton told reporters Thursday that Goodwin does not have an edge on Lelito at the moment.

“You are never just given a position,” Payton said, according to the club. “Tim has done a lot of good things and we are excited about his progress, and a guy like Jonathan who has played a long time, I think it’ll make both of them better.”

Both centers, Payton said, “are going to have a good shot at playing for us.”

Whether Goodwin wins the job or not, the Saints now have more options at the position. In some ways, it’s akin to when the Saints had Olin Kreutz and Brian de la Puente at center three years ago. When Kreutz retired during the 2011 campaign, de la Puente stepped in and held the starting job through 2013. Note that Goodwin is just on a one-year deal and turns 36 in December.