MILWAUKEE — The Green Bay Packers made a rare reach into unrestricted free agency to find a new anchor for their offensive line, signing veteran center Jeff Saturday to a two-year deal on Friday.
The Packers made the signing official late Friday afternoon, also announcing the signing of former Colts defensive lineman Daniel Muir.
Saturday’s agent, Ralph Cindrich, confirmed that the Packers and Saturday had agreed to a two-year deal. ESPN reported the deal earlier in the day.
The 36-year-old Saturday has started 188 regular season games in 13 NFL seasons.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers both have spoken highly of Wells over the past two seasons. He has been the team’s most consistent offensive lineman and played a critical role in dictating blocking schemes.
The addition of Saturday, with his experience in the Colts’ complex offense and quarterback Peyton Manning, should make for a relatively smooth transition.
The Packers also increased their defensive line depth with the signing of Muir, who appeared in 40 games with 26 starts for the Colts from 2008-11. The Packers originally signed Muir as an undrafted free agent in 2007 and he appeared in three games for the Packers.
It’s an uncharacteristic play for a relatively high-profile free agent by Packers general manager Ted Thompson, who built the Packers into consistent contenders primarily by drafting and developing players. Green Bay may still look for a long-term answer at center in next month’s NFL draft to learn the position behind Saturday.
Colts owner Jim Irsay wished Saturday well. “I wanted him to work for (the) team full time but he wanted to go at it one more year ... He’s as good of a man as it gets,” Irsay wrote on his Twitter account.
Saturday had been the Colts’ full-time starting center since 2000. He became a fan favorite, a key figure in the NFL Players Association and one of Manning’s closest friends. He visited Green Bay and Tennessee, and there had been speculation he could rejoin Manning in Denver. Saturday also thought about retiring.
Anticipating Saturday’s departure, the Colts signed free agent center Samson Satele to a three-year contract worth $10.8 million, with $5 million guaranteed. Satele has started 74 career games with the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders.