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Saints sign Wayne Gandy

METARIE, La., March 2 (UPI) -- The New Orleans Saints strengthened their offensive line Sunday with the free agent signing of tackle Wayne Gandy to a six-year contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed. A nine-year veteran, Gandy had been with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he played the important pass-protection position of left tackle.

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The Saints led the NFL in scoring last season and appeared to have more holes to fill on defense. Nevertheless, general manager Mickey Loomis' first offseason signing added depth to the offensive line.

"Signing a player of (Gandy's) caliber not only makes us better immediately, but it further solidifies the tackle position, giving us many options," Loomis said.

Last year, the Saints signed free agent tackles Kendyl Jacox and Spencer Folau and drafted LeCharles Bentley.

Gandy was a 1994 first-round pick of the St. Louis Rams and joined the Steelers in 1999. He had a string of 102 starts ended by a hamstring injury that forced him to sit out a game in the 2001 season. That is the only contest he mas missed in the last eight years.

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"Whenever you get a chance to bring in a top-notch player, you do it, and getting Wayne in here will make us better," Saints Coach Jim Haslett said. "He brings a combination of athleticism, polished pass protection techniques and run-blocking strength."

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