METAIRIE, La. -- Moss Point native Tom Johnson will likely spend this offseason in an NFL training camp.
But it may not be with the New Orleans Saints, his home for the last three seasons.
Johnson, a reserve defensive end, will not be offered a restricted tender, according to a report in USA TODAY. Such a tender would exceed $1 million for next season, more than the Saints are likely prepared to spend on Johnson, whose plans for a breakout season in 2013 were tarnished by ill-timed injuries.
It's part of a defensive changing of the guard for the Saints, which earlier this month, released the first group of veterans and former Super Bowl XLIV heroes: linebackers Will Smith and Jonathan Vilma, strong safety Roman Harper and even more surprising, cornerback Jabari Greer, who is recovering from ACL surgery.
Last season's fourth-ranked defense under first-year coordinator Rob Ryan was an unexpected product of youthful efforts. Meanwhile, Johnson, 29, lost a chance to challenge defensive end Akiem Hicks for a starting job opposite Pro Bowler Cameron Jordan, injuring his hamstring during training camp. Later, Johnson re-injured his hamstring during a Week 2 win at Tampa Bay, forcing him to miss the next two games.
Johnson played in 12 games last season, finishing with two sacks and 12 tackles.
Meanwhile, the Saints watch Hicks (4½ sacks) and rookie free agent Glenn Foster (three sacks) blossom at the position.
The Saints are focusing this offseason on re-signing All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham to a record-breaking contract for his position, as well as center Brian de la Puente, right tackle Zach Strief and safety Malcolm Jenkins.
In three seasons, Johnson collected five sacks and 55 tackles. On March 11, he will become an unrestricted free agent, allowing him to shop his services around the league.
Gary Estwick, a correspondent covering the Saints for the Sun Herald, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Facebook and TwitterEstwickSaints.