Floyd hopes Saints provide salvation for sagging NFL career

Published 10:41 pm Friday, August 3, 2018

METAIRIE, La. — Michael Floyd made it clear that he’s looking for a fresh start to what’s left of his once-promising NFL career.

So the St. Paul native, who floundered with his hometown Vikings last season, is now working on the opposite end the Mississippi River, trying to show Sean Payton and Co. why the New Orleans Saints were right to give him a look.

“I think I still have a lot to offer. I’m only 28,” the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Floyd said Thursday, after his second practice with the Saints on Thursday. “I don’t think I’m too old.”

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Saints coach Sean Payton described the signing as relatively low risk this early in camp, when rosters are at 90 players and the club has about a month to evaluate players before trimming its roster to the regular season maximum of 53.

“I think I know what he can be,” Payton said. “That’s the cool thing about coaching, is when you get somebody and you feel like you can make a difference.”

Receivers coach Curtis Johnson added that the Saints’ style of offense “allows guys like him to be productive,” whether it be blocking on the edge for the Saints’ strong running game or rising up in the end zone for a Drew Brees fade pass.

“He’s a very physical player. I thought he caught the ball well today,” Johnson said. “So, his size and his speed can really help us.”

Floyd was a prominent receiver for Arizona early in his career. He had 1,041 yards and five touchdowns receiving in 2013 and no fewer than 841 yards in each of the two seasons after that. But his production — and the arc of his career — dipped considerably in 2016, a season marred by a drunken driving arrest and late-season release from the Cardinals.

New England snapped him up en route to a Super Bowl triumph that season, but Floyd’s contributions to the Patriots’ success were limited at best. In two regular season games, he caught four passes, including a 14-yard TD. He had one catch in New England’s playoff opener —when he also had an interception bounce off his hands — and was scratched for the AFC title game and Super Bowl.

Last season, Floyd played in 11 games for the Vikings after serving a four-game suspension by the NFL for using a banned substance. He finished the regular season with only 10 catches for 78 yards.

In free agency, Floyd was not heavily sought after. He had a tryout with Baltimore but remained unsigned when training camps opened. He signed this week with New Orleans, which was looking to add receivers because of injuries to three young players at that position.

A handful of other teams had offered tryouts, but Floyd and his agent, Brian Murphy of Athletes First, decided to be selective about accepting such invitations.

“What we learned last year in Minnesota is that what appears to be good fit on the surface might not necessarily end up being ideal, and it’s nobody’s fault,” Murphy told The Associated Press by phone. “We were very careful this year to pinpoint teams where we were confident Michael would have an opportunity to contribute.”

Floyd said it was important to him to join a team with players he knew. The Saints roster includes linebacker Manti Teo, Floyd’s former college teammate at Notre Dame. Floyd also was already acquainted with Saints running back Shane Vereen and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who also are represented by Athletes First.

“There’s a lot of things that come into play when you’re choosing to be on a team,” Floyd said. “I chose Minnesota last year just because I know a whole bunch of guys on the team and I knew what they’re about. And playing with (Vikings tight end) Kyle Rudolph in college, it’s something that I think, in my life, that I wanted to be around guys that were close to me.”

Why didn’t his stint with the Vikings work out? It appeared Floyd preferred not to express any opinion about that when he smiled wryly and said, “I have no idea.”

In New Orleans, Floyd said he sees “a great team, a great coach and guys that I’ve been knowing for a decade. It’s always good to go on a team and have guys that you already know. It makes a lot of things more smooth.”

Floyd also alluded to what he hopes will be a blossoming relationship with the prolific Brees.

“Having a (projected) Hall of Fame quarterback throwing you the ball — I think that makes a big difference,” Floyd said.