Hakim agrees to one-year deal
Saints expecting to sign veteran receiver in coming few days
Sunday, June 19, 2005
By Mike Triplett
Staff writer

The Saints have verbally agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent receiver Az-Zahir Hakim and plan to finalize the deal Monday or Tuesday, according to General Manager Mickey Loomis and Hakim's agent, Bruce Tollner.

The amount of money was not disclosed. But on Friday, Kansas City Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil indicated that the Saints offered Hakim a better deal than the Chiefs, who were offering close to the veteran minimum.

"It's a better opportunity," Tollner responded, when asked if Vermeil was accurate. "He had two good opportunities, and he felt like New Orleans was the best fit."

Hakim, 28, is expected to compete with second-year player Devery Henderson, among others, to be the Saints' third receiver. The Saints have been looking to add a veteran receiver for several weeks, having let Jerome Pathon go after last season.

Hakim had agreed to a contract with the Chiefs last week and even practiced with the team, but the deal fell through.

Hakim visited the Saints before going to Kansas City, and Tollner said Hakim "continued to evaluate his opportunities" last week.

Loomis said he assumed Hakim would sign with the Chiefs, but when the deal fell through, "he called us back and asked if we were still interested, and we said yes."

Loomis declined further comment on Hakim until the deal is completed. Hakim, who is at home in Southern California, was not available for comment.

Hakim, 5 feet 10, 189 pounds, has been mostly a No. 3 receiver in his seven years with the St. Louis Rams and Detroit Lions, averaging 40 catches, 550 yards and four touchdowns over the past six seasons.

He put up his best numbers in 1999 and 2000, stretching the field for the Rams' potent offense. He also has returned punts for most of his career.

The Lions made Hakim a starter after signing him as a free agent in 2002, but a dislocated hip limited him to 10 games that season. He started 12 games in 2003 and five last season, missing four games with back, hip and finger injuries.

Detroit released him after this year's draft, in which they selected receiver Mike Williams in the first round. Hakim was scheduled to make $2.5 million this year.