Seventeen months after Bobby Hebert told the New Orleans Saints he would never sign another contract with them, he agreed to a new two-year deal.
"Like a good businessman, which in a capitalistic society you should be, I was just looking for the best deal," Hebert said Tuesday night.Hebert and the Saints refused to discuss the terms of the contract, but the Times-Picayune reported it was worth $2.7 million. The newspaper said Hebert would be paid $1.3 million in 1991 and $1.43 million in 1992, plus other incentive clauses based on personal and team successes.
Hebert earned a base salary of $650,000 in 1989, his fifth season with the Saints.
Hebert, 30, whose contract expired after the 1989 season, sat out all of last year after demanding in January 1990 to be traded.
Negotiations between Hebert and Jim Finks, the Saints' president and general manager, often were stormy. Finks refused to trade Hebert, saying he would only consider a deal that reflected Hebert's status as a top-ranked quarterback.
"Business is business. What has been done, that's in the past," Hebert said. "I can honestly say I don't have any hard feelings against Mr. Finks."
The development threw the Saints' quarterback picture into chaos. The team traded with Dallas in 1990 for quarterback Steve Walsh, who started most of New Orleans' games last season and immediately was labeled the Saints' quarterback of the future.
Hebert's signing now leaves the Saints with four quarterbacks - Hebert, Walsh, journeyman John Fourcade and Mike Buck, a sixth-round draft choice in 1990.
"Steve Walsh will go into camp as our starter," coach Jim Mora said Tuesday. "That's assured."
Mora said Hebert, who led the Saints to their first playoff appearance in 1987, would enter training camp as the fourth quarterback on the roster.
"I'm sure I'll probably start at the bottom of the chart," Hebert said. `I'm just glad this is behind me. All I want to do is play football. Come Sept. 1, my goal is to be the starting quarterback."
After the news conference, the Saints issued a statement from Walsh.
"My attitude for training camp and the 1991 season is that I need to strive to be the best quarterback on the team," Walsh's statement said. "My goal is to be the starter."
Fourcade was more blunt-spoken.
"The writing is on the wall," Fourcade said. "Everybody in the whole country knows what's going to happen - Bobby's going to start and Steve Walsh is going to back him up. I don't want to be just another arm going into camp.
"I knew Bobby was coming back, but I can't believe this. After all he's said and done, and now they're going to welcome him back with open arms and double his salary. I guess that's life in the NFL."
Hebert left the Saints' practice facility on Jan. 3, 1990, saying he would never sign another contract with the team. At that time, he asked the Saints to trade him or cut him and planned to relocate to the West Coast.