Jarvis Landry ecstatic to return home with Saints: 'It's full circle'

Each step of Jarvis Landry's career brought him more success -- and took him farther away from home.

His next move brings him as close as possible to it.

Landry's one-year deal with the Saints returns him to the New Orleans area, where he first appeared on the national radar as a star wide receiver at Lutcher High School, then thrived alongside pal Odell Beckham Jr. at LSU before moving on to the NFL and four-year stops in Miami and Cleveland.

After two presidential terms' worth of time spent away, Landry is going home just six months before turning 30.

"It's full circle," Landry said, via the team's official site. "It's a blessing to be back. As a kid you always grew up wishing to play for the New Orleans Saints, play for the LSU Tigers, and I can say I accomplished both, being a hometown kid."

Landry's decision to head back to New Orleans didn't happen overnight. The veteran receiver took plenty of time between visiting the Saints prior to the 2022 NFL Draft and agreeing to a contract with New Orleans, and the Saints' decision to spend a first-round pick on Ohio State receiver Chris Olave seemed to reduce the chances of Landry heading to the Big Easy.

But even with Olave and Michael Thomas on the roster, the Saints were still in the market for a veteran presence to play slot receiver. They found a perfect match in Landry, a shifty, sharp route-runner with highly dependable hands and unquestioned toughness.

Landry essentially played through injury in all but one season in Cleveland, battling a hip ailment that limited his movement in every direction in 2019. He still finished with 1,174 receiving yards and six touchdowns in that campaign, and never once mentioned his injury publicly during the season, waiting until the 2020 Pro Bowl to reveal the ailment to NFL.com.

A year later, Landry suffered a broken rib in a Week 5 game against Indianapolis, but still played in 15 games, catching 72 passes for 840 yards and three touchdowns. He shined in Cleveland's playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, catching five passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

In 2021, Landry fought through a knee injury, appearing in 12 games and catching 52 passes for 570 yards and two touchdowns. He later revealed the knee injury was just the beginning of his health struggles, tweeting he was also playing through a partial quadriceps tear and a bone bruise, and "you never heard me mention anything about it."

That was the first season in which Landry missed any playing time due to injury. His efforts did not go unnoticed in the locker room, where he was widely respected among teammates and continues to carry a stellar reputation for being a strong voice for any team's culture. As Landry left Cleveland, most everyone credited him with being the face of a shift in identity that helped the Browns transform from laughingstock to contender in recent years.

"He's been a really good player in our league," Saints coach Dennis Allen said. "He's a guy that we feel like can move the chains, and feel like he's a guy from a character standpoint, from a leadership standpoint, that I think we can use."

Now, Landry joins a Saints squad that could use his experience and dependability in an offense that is still trying to find its legs following the retirement of Drew Brees after the 2020 season. Landry believes he can play an important role in New Orleans' offense, which will be quarterbacked by Jameis Winston, a player who certainly made an effort to lure Landry to New Orleans.

"I think for me it's just coming in and doing what I need to do, where I'm needed," Landry said. "I've had a great conversation with (Dennis Allen), great conversation with (quarterback) Jameis (Winston), (offensive coordinator) Pete (Carmichael) as well, that swayed my confidence to be able to be a part of this offense and be another tool to the toolbox."

It's only a one-year deal for Landry, who now has a lengthy injury history but also has proven he's willing to sacrifice his body to help his team. Should he make a significant impact, it couldn't come in a better place than New Orleans.

"I grew up 45 minutes away," he said. "I've always watched closely. I played on the AFC side of things so I hadn't had to worry about the Saints at all. And now being in the NFC, I know what they stand for, what this culture is about and I'm happy to be a part of it.

"I always kind of watched. But now, to be on this stage and have my family be able to come to these games, my friends and everybody, it's going to be awesome."

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