Saints By Position: Top 5 safeties in franchise history

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Tommy Myers

Patrolling the deep.

Providing the last line of defense.

Going against huge tight ends.

Lining up in the box to take on blockers and to make tackles.

There are many demands on the safety position, whether as a free or strong safety. There are many hybrid players who can handle all of the requirements.

The New Orleans Saints have been fortunate to have some very good safeties over the course of 53 seasons.

The very best was a ball hawk and a tremendous hitter.

Here are my Top 5 safeties in New Orleans Saints history:

1) Tommy Myers
2) Sammy Knight
3) Roman Harper
4) Gene Atkins
5) Brett Maxie

Tommy Myers played 10 seasons with the Saints (1972-81). His hits are legendary.

Myers knocked himself out on one occasion and he knocked out an opponent on another vicious hit. Myers left body parts strewn all over the field, all over the league. He played fiercely and brilliantly, anticipating throws as well as any player in franchise history.

Myers played in 136 games, starting 120. Myers recorded 36 interceptions, second in franchise history, and he had 15 fumble recoveries. Myers had a memorable three interception game in the season opening 31-24 win over the Vikings in 1978. That included the longest interception return for a touchdown in the NFL that season, 97 yards off of Fran Tarkenton. That was one of two interceptions returned for scores for Myers.

Myers also returned 21 punts. Myers even threw a touchdown pass in 1981. Myers was third in the NFL with seven interceptions in 1979.

Myers made the Pro Bowl in 1979.

Myers was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1989.

Sammy Knight

Sammy Knight was an undrafted free agency who refused to go away.

Knight played six seasons with the Saints from 1997-2002. Like Myers, he had great ball skills and was a big hitter.

Knight played in 94 games, starting 89. Knight had 28 interceptions, 36 passes defended, 10 fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles. Knight had 570 tackles, including five sacks and 18 tackles for loss.

Knight played in all 16 games in five of his six seasons. Knight was named to the NFL All-Rookie Team in 1997. He made the Pro Bowl in 2001 when he was named second team All-Pro by the Associated Press.

The Saints made a huge mistake letting Knight get away in 2003. Knight was a big part of the 2000 Saints team which won the NFC South and won its first playoff game ever. In the 2000 playoffs, Knight had two interceptions, a fumble recovery and nine tackles.

Knight was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2011.

Roman Harper played nine years with the New Orleans Saints. He was part of five playoff teams with the Saints, including the Super Bowl XLIV championship team in the 2009 season and the team that went to the NFC championship game in his rookie season of 2006.

Harper played in 124 games, starting 108. He was in on 685 tackles, including 17 sacks and 38 tackles for loss. Harper had seven interceptions. Harper forced 15 fumbles and recovered three fumbles.

Harper was outstanding in the box, a sure tackler, and he could cover tight ends.

Harper made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and 2010. Harper played in eight playoff games and had two forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks, 32 tackles and three passes defended.

Gene Atkins played for the Saints for seven seasons from 1987-93. Atkins played in 94 games, starting 89. Atkins was in on 462 tackles, including seven sacks. He had 18 tackles for loss.

Atkins recorded 21 interceptions, had 14 fumble recoveries and forced 15 fumbles. Atkins played in every game for the Saints in six of seven seasons.

He was part of the first four playoff teams in franchise history. Atkins was a hard hitter and ball hawk, just like Myers and Knight. Atkins returned 71 kickoffs. He played in four playoff games for the Saints.

Brett Maxie played nine seasons with the Saints (1985-93). Maxie played in 118 games, starting 72. He was part of the first four playoff teams in franchise history.

Maxie had 15 interceptions and five fumble recoveries. He returned three interceptions for touchdowns. Maxie was in on 438 tackles, including three sacks.

In four playoff games with the Saints, Maxie was brilliant, intercepting three passes and returning all three for touchdowns and he recorded a safety. Maxie played in every game in six different seasons.

Maxie was fifth in the NFL with six interceptions in 1995.

Brett Maxie played nine seasons with the Saints (1985-93). Maxie played in 118 games, starting 72. He was part of the first four playoff teams in franchise history.

Maxie had 15 interceptions and five fumble recoveries. He returned three interceptions for touchdowns. Maxie was in on 438 tackles, including three sacks.

In four playoff games with the Saints, Maxie was brilliant, intercepting three passes and returning all three for touchdowns and he recorded a safety. Maxie played in every game in six different seasons.

Maxie was fifth in the NFL with six interceptions in 1995.

Darren Sharper played in just 22 regular season games for the Saints but he made his mark in just two seasons.

Sharper had nine interceptions in the 2009 season when the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV. He was simply superb, returning three interceptions for a touchdown. Sharper had 87 tackles, a fumble recovery a half sack. He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 when he was first team All-Pro.

Dave Whitsell was an original Saint. He played just three seasons (1967-69) but he made his mark. Whitsell has the distinction of being the first Pro Bowl player in franchise history, earning that honor in his first season when he had 10 interceptions and was second team All-Pro but that was mostly at cornerback. He finished his three seasons with 19 interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns and had a pair of fumble recoveries.

Whitsell was inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame in 1996.

Malcolm Jenkins has played five seasons in New Orleans (2009-13) and he is returning to the Saints for a second stint this season.

Jenkins has played in 71 games, starting 63. Jenkins has recorded 359 tackles, including 4.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss. Jenkins has six interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, along with five fumble recoveries and six forced fumbles.

Jenkins has played in six playoff games with 20 tackles, two passes defended and one sack. Now that he is returning to the Saints, he is very likely to move into the top five in franchise history.

Darren Sharper played in just 22 regular season games for the Saints but he made his mark in just two seasons.

Sharper had nine interceptions in the 2009 season when the Saints won Super Bowl XLIV. He was simply superb, returning three interceptions for a touchdown. Sharper had 87 tackles, a fumble recovery a half sack. He made the Pro Bowl in 2009 when he was first team All-Pro.

Sharper played in four playoff games with two fumble recoveries, two passes defended and 12 tackles.

Frank Wattelet played in 98 games over seven seasons for the Saints (1981-87). Wattelet had 12 interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, along with 10 fumble recoveries and a sack.

Marcus Williams has three seasons under his belt (2017-present) with the Saints. Williams became an instant starter in his rookie season and has not given up the position, starting all 46 games he has played in.

Williams has 187 tackles, including a sack. He has forced two fumbles and has a fumble recovery. Williams has 10 interceptions, including one returned for a score. He made the NFL All-Rookie team in 2017. Williams has played in five playoff games with an interception, three passes defended and 30 tackles.

Honorable Mention:

Darren Sharper
Dave Whitsell
Malcolm Jenkins
Frank Wattelet
Marcus Williams

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