Bradley Handwerger / Sports Writer

METAIRIE, La. ― Carl Nicks stood on the field with his fellow offensive linemen, watching practice and yukking it up with his teammates.


Nicks ended his free agency time away, signing his restricted free agency tender Monday morning.

'I just decided to forget the possibility of someone maybe giving up a first-round (pick), which never happens,' Nicks said. 'I'm back. I wanted to be here. I wanted to prove my worth and maybe next year we can talk long term.'

Nicks was drafted by the Saints in 2008 with the team's fifth-round pick. He has started every game the past two seasons and the final 13 games of the 2008 season.

For quarterback Drew Brees, who for now is relying on second-year center Matt Tennant, second-year player Brian de la Puente and undrafted rookie free agent Mike Smith, getting Nicks' signature was big.

Especially with defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, all 6-foot-4, 350 pounds of him, lining up across from him.

'It was good to see that big man walk in the building yesterday,' Brees said

Nicks and the Saints' haven't broached the topic of a long-term contract. He was given a first-round tender this year and feels like that says enough for now.

'Yeah, first-round tender, which to me is a lot of money in itself because I was a fifth-round draft pick. So I was lucky to get that.'

No teams showed any interest in him, Nicks said. Not that it mattered he said he wanted to return to the Saints regardless.

'At the end of the day I wanted to come back anyway,' Nicks said.' I know the system. It took me (awhile) to learn it anyway. I've got Drew. Great offensive line. A great bunch of guys. I wanted to come back anyway so I came back early.'

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