The New Orleans Saints decided they needed a new running back more than two field-goal kickers.
Hoping to boost a running game that ranks 31st in the NFL through five games, the Saints on Tuesday signed former Seattle Seahawks running back Julius Jones and released 46-year-old kicker John Carney.
The Seahawks released Jones on Oct. 5 to clear a roster spot for Marshawn Lynch, whom they acquired from the Buffalo Bills in a trade. Jones, 29, restructured his contract and took a hefty pay cut right before the start of the season, then carried the ball just 12 times for 30 yards in two games for Seattle this season.
The Saints, who are averaging just 75.6 rushing yards per game, have lost two of three games since running back Reggie Bush fractured a bone in his lower right leg. Pierre Thomas, the team's leading rusher last season, has missed the past two games with a left ankle injury. Backup Ladell Betts lost a fumble that was returned for a score and tipped a pass that was intercepted Sunday during the Saints' 30-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
Betts and undrafted rookie Chris Ivory have received all the work at running back the last two games, and Saints coach Sean Payton said as recently as Monday that he didn't plan to look for another option at the position.
"These are guys that we have a lot of confidence in," Payton said Monday of Betts and Ivory. "I felt a week ago that Ladell played very well. ... I thought Chris ran hard (Sunday). We'll keep coaching them. These are our guys. There's no one walking in here to save the day on the street right now."
The coach's stance apparently shifted Tuesday, when the Saints also announced that they signed safety Matt Giordano, a free agent, and waived reserve running back DeShawn Wynn.
Carney signed with the Saints in late September to fill in for struggling Garrett Hartley, who was inactive the past two weeks but is poised to reclaim the job now. Carney made five of six field-goal attempts in two games, missing the final one -- from 29 yards out -- late in the third quarter of the Saints' loss at Arizona.
Giordano is a six-year veteran who spent four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and was with the Green Bay Packers in 2009. The Saints must play at least one more week without free safety Darren Sharper, who began the season on the physically unable to perform list. New Orleans also lost reserve safety Chris Reis to a season-ending shoulder injury two weeks ago.
Wynn has played in four games for the Saints this season and made two tackles on special teams.
Running back Clifton Smith, a former Pro Bowl kick returner who was waived by the Miami Dolphins last month, and defensive back Quincy Butler, who was with the St. Louis Rams last year after being on the Saints' practice squad for part of the 2008 season, also worked out with the Saints on Tuesday, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported, citing league sources.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.