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Zach Strief, Saints mutually interested in new contract

As the Saints prepare for their foray into free agency, right tackle Zach Strief is on the radar for a new contract in New Orleans.

ESPN.com's Mike Triplett reported Monday that agent Ralph Cindrich has engaged in early discussions with the team about re-signing the eight-year veteran.

"There is a mutual interest to get something done on both sides," said Cindrich, "and we had a good meeting and discussions."

After operating as a guard during his first five seasons in the league, Strief has started at offensive tackle over the past three campaigns. He was at his best in 2013, starting 15 games and finishing as the NFL's seventh-best tackle, per Pro Football Focus. He didn't grade out well as a run blocker, but Strief did an outstanding job protecting quarterback Drew Brees.

With starting center Brian De La Puente also set to hit the open market, New Orleans has a tough decision to make. They're hugged up against the salary cap and can't afford to keep more than a handful of their whopping 18 free agents. If they're talking with Strief, it's a good sign that he's in the "keep" category.

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