So far, 2017 doesn’t feel that much different than 2016. The Saints began last off-season with questions surrounding the future of head coach Sean Payton following a 7-9 season. They finished this season the same way and began the off-season the same way as well.
“Every year, you're going to have speculation or rumors of someone being traded,” says defensive end Cam Jordan. “You never know, so you don't worry about it.”
Jordan’s right in the fact that transaction speculation is a constant in the NFL, but it’s not quite as common for a head coach to be so close to the trade talk, especially after signing an extension just the year before. Payton is signed on with the Saints through 2020, but with each losing season that passes, it looks less and less like he’ll be in New Orleans that long. However, his faithful quarterback doesn’t think he’s going anywhere.
“We're talking hypotheticals here,” says Drew Brees. “We deal with things as they come, but I just don't expect that to happen.”
For many of the players on the Saints’ roster, Sean Payton’s been the only NFL head coach they’ve ever had or the one they’ve spent the most time with.
“He's my first coach, one of two I've had,” says veteran safety Roman Harper. “I really enjoy Sean. We have a special bond, special relationship. We'll talk today and see how everything is. I'm sure everything will work itself out in the end.”
“I do know that I've enjoyed my time here,” says Jordan. “I've enjoyed the organization that it is. I expect Sean to be here, and if he's not, that's going to be news to me.”
All that being said, there’s a simple fix to ending all of the drama off the field, and that’s winning on the field. Three-consecutive losing seasons doesn’t sit well with anyone, and that’s where all of the Payton speculation truly begins.
“I don't find it a distraction,” says Brees. “If anything, it's tough for me because as the quarterback, you want to win football games, and that's what solves this problem. That's what makes all of this go away; when you win in the playoffs, and you're making a run at it. That's the hard part for me. That's the disappointing part for me, that we haven't had a chance at the playoffs the last few years.”
And it’s just as disappointing to the fans as well.
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