NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints have five former Vikings on their roster. Four know when to keep quiet.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, running back Latavius Murray, cornerback Marcus Sherels and offensive lineman Nick Easton were all on the Vikings team that stunned the Saints on Stefon Diggs’ miraculous, last-second catch in a January 2018 playoff game.
“It briefly came up when we were discussing a two-minute drill (in practice),” Murray said of the Minnesota Miracle. “I just keep my mouth closed and realize what team I’m on now.”
Murray’s new team will play the Vikings in the exhibition opener at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, at the Superdome. All the former Vikings are scheduled to play.
The fifth former Viking is fullback Zach Line, who is entering his third season with the Saints after playing for Minnesota from 2013-16. He was with New Orleans during the Minnesota Miracle disappointment.
“It’s just fun,” Line said of all the former Vikings on hand. “You can look back and compare and contrast what training camps are like and the memories when we were young back then.”
Last season, Line was joined on the Saints by Bridgewater, who played for the Vikings from 2014-17. Bridgewater signed in March 2018 with the New York Jets before being traded to New Orleans last August. He said he’s fully healthy after suffering a horrific knee injury in August 2016, and is excited to be joining forces with so many ex-teammates.
“We all know what they were able to do when we were all in Minnesota,” said Bridgewater, the backup behind future hall of famer Drew Brees. “And it’s great to have them on this side of the ball this go round.”
Murray, Sherels and Easton signed as free agents in March. Saints coach Sean Payton, who is close to Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and once coached alongside him in Dallas, said it’s just a “coincidence” he has ended up with many of Zimmer’s former players, saying all were brought in to fill needs.
After two years with Minnesota, Murray signed a four-year, $14.4 million contract as a replacement for departing free agent Mark Ingram. He had interest in re-signing with the Vikings but money was an issue since they had salary-cap issues.
“Obviously, that’s the business part about it,” said Murray, who will complement Saints starting running back Alvin Kamara. “The type of team they are, the teammates, my time there, the friendships I created with everyone in that building, I’ll never forget (the Vikings). They’ll always be friends of mine, so I’m definitely thankful for that opportunity there. But the business side took over, and I ended up here in a really good place.”
Sherels was the primary punt returner for the final eight of his nine Vikings seasons, but they did not make an offer to re-sign him. So he joined the Saints on a one-year, $1.2 million deal.
“I know it’s a business,” Sherels said. “I got nine really good years that I’ll never take back and they were really good to me, but it was time to move on, and I’m happy now.”
Easton came to Minnesota as a rookie in an October 2015 trade with San Francisco. He was the starting left guard in 2017 before missing all of last season with a neck injury. The Vikings made him an offer in free agency, but he signed a four-year, $22.5 million deal with the Saints.
“It worked out for the best,” Easton said. “I appreciate everything the Vikings did for me and offered me, and this was the best situation for me and my family.”
The Saints picked up Easton after starting center Max Unger retired. Easton is battling rookie Erik McCoy for the starting job, but McCoy has been running mostly with the first team in practice. On Wednesday, Easton worked with the second team at left guard.
Sherels, whose base salary of $930,000 is not guaranteed, is the only one of the former Vikings seemingly not a lock to make the team. He is battling several players at punt returner and also is being evaluated as a kickoff returner.
In the meantime, Sherels won’t be bringing up the Minnesota Miracle.
“It was an opportunity for (the Vikings), but it was a heartbreaker for (the Saints),” he said.