Entering the 2016 season, Manti Te'o thought he had a chance to earn a lucrative contract with a strong performance.

He was entering the final year of his contract with the Chargers was a captain and starting inside linebacker.

"I was told all I had to do was play 16 games, and I would get paid," Te'o said this week.

Through two games, Te'o had 14 tackles, including two for loss. Then, in the third game, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon, ending his season as well as his hopes of a high-priced contract.

"I've been training to play football since I was 5 years old," he said. "All that work, all the sacrificed me and my family made, it would've all come to fruition that year."

In March, the Saints signed Te'o to a two-year, $5 million deal. It wasn't the big money he thought he'd be in line to receive, but thus far, it's proven to be one of the four bargain signings New Orleans made early in free agency last year.

After years of making blunders with top-of-market deals -- whether it was busts like safety Jairus Byrd or cornerback Brandon Browner, or someone who has yet to meet expectations like tight end Coby Fleener -- the Saints this year found key role players at good prices in free agency earlier this year.