NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Wide receiver Marques Colston has decided against testing free agency and will remain with the club that gave him his first chance in the NFL as a little known seventh-round draft choice out of Hofstra.
Colston and Saints agreed to a new contract on Tuesday that runs up to five years, giving the 28-year-old receiver a chance to break several of the club receiving records he has approached in his first six seasons as a pro.
``This was important to me, to be back with this team in this situation,'' Colston said in a statement released by the club. ``I was not looking to chase free agency. It was more important for me to be back in our program, a program we have been building and a program I believe in.
``The Saints have been loyal to me from the beginning,'' said Colston, a key part of the Saints' only Super Bowl-winning club in 2009-10. ``Now it is time to get back to work and win some more rings.''
After completing the deal with Colston's agent, Joel Segal, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Colston deserved credit for working to get a deal done before the opening of free agency on Tuesday afternoon. Financial terms of the new deal were not disclosed.
``Since we drafted Marques in 2006, he's been everything that we are looking for in a New Orleans Saint as a player and a person,'' Loomis said. ``His combination of production, work ethic and reliability speaks for itself. He has proudly represented our team both on the field and in the community. ... He's been a major part of our success and we're excited that he will continue to be an integral part of our team for years to come.''
During his rookie season, the 6-foot-4 Colston quickly emerged as a favorite target for quarterback Drew Brees and played a leading role in the Saints' inspiring run to the NFC championship game in the club's first season in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina had devastated much of the city.
Colston has now amassed more than 1,000 yards receiving in five of his six seasons in the NFL.
Although Colston missed two games in 2011, his 80 receptions for 1,143 yards ranked in the top 15 in the NFL in both categories and second on the Saints behind only Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham.
Colston ranks third in Saints history with 449 receptions and 6,240 receiving yards. He has 48 career touchdown receptions.
He needs 84 more catches to surpass all-time Saints leader Eric Martin and only three more touchdown receptions to move into first, past Joe Horn, in that category. Colston also is only eight TDs behind club record holder Deuce McCallister, who had 55.
The Colston deal removes what would have been among the Saints top priorities in free agency. The Saints also hope to bring back starting offensive guard Carl Nicks, and their other free agents include cornerback Tracy Porter, receiver Robert Meachem and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar. The Saints also hope to reach a long-term extension with Brees, but in the meantime have placed their franchise tag on the star quarterback to prevent him from going elsewhere in 2012.