The New Orleans Saints are on the verge of bringing back former starting center Jonathan Goodwin, as the two sides have agreed in principle to a deal, league sources confirmed Monday to ESPN.com.

The sides still are negotiating specifics of the contract, but the deal is expected to be finalized as early as Tuesday, according to the sources.

Goodwin, 35, was a starter for the Saints from 2008 to 2010, including trips to the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl in 2009. He spent the past three years as a full-time starter for the San Francisco 49ers.

Now, Goodwin will try to win his old job back in a battle with second-year pro Tim Lelito. The Saints' starting center job was left vacant when they decided not to re-sign veteran Brian de la Puente in free agency.

Goodwin's return has been long anticipated. But the Saints were apparently waiting until after June 1 -- presumably because it might affect the NFL's formula for calculating compensatory draft selections.

Goodwin obviously is no longer in his prime, as the 49ers decided to let him go as they moved on with younger alternatives.