Brees willing to extend contract; optimistic Payton will return
The following is a transcript of this morning's news briefing provided by the New Orleans Saints:
A lot of people wondering about the futures of yourself and Sean Payton. Can you shed any light on that?
“I can’t. I’ve been here a while this morning to get my physical and all of that stuff, but mainly just seeing the guys and hanging in the locker room a little bit. The last time for a while, but again I have voiced this for the last few weeks. I am very hopeful that we are all going to be here and we are going to prepare ourselves to make a run at it for the next few years.”
Do you have a good feeling about it?
“Yes, I do.”
Do you base that on some real knowledge or being an optimist?
“No, being an optimist, but just knowing what the mindset was a year ago, in regards to, building not rebuilding the foundation for what would allow us to make a run at it in the future and that’s getting guys here that have great character and toughness and love to compete, love football and love being around each other and I feel like we have that and I know that didn’t result in a playoff season this year, but I feel like (we were) kind of setting the tone for what could be success in the future.”
Based on as much success that you and Sean Payton have had isn’t there an inherent risk in starting over without each other?
“Yes, I mean sure. Again I don’t know all the scenarios. I just feel like it’s been ten years right and there been I guess ebbs and flows. It was this trajectory for a long time and then I think last year and we have talked about this. I feel like last year was the first time it just dipped, but now we are back on this trajectory again and you could argue well where is the starting place of that trajectory? Is it a little bit lower than it has been or are we really about to make a jump and I feel like we are about to make a jump and I feel like Sean is a big part of that and I hope that I am a big part of that. I know there are guys in this locker room that want to be a big part of that, but there are always those question marks every offseason, especially the day after.”
You guys had to make significant locker room changes last year and how much this year do you think is necessary?
“A lot of that has been resolved from last year to this year and I mean I think it’s obvious we need to make some improvements in areas that are going to help us consistently win more games. When you come off a 7-9 season obviously where were we lacking or where do we need to get better or what more do we need to do and I think that is the evaluation process that takes place here over the next few weeks, two months and then you think about obviously the draft and free agency and all those things. There are always guys you might lose and there are always guys you can gain, but I think the core is part of that foundation that is your success moving forward.”
If they came to you and asked you to extend (your contract) would you?
“Absolutely, yes absolutely.”
If you have finished your career here, would you be satisfied in what you and the team have accomplished? Are there any regrets?
“No, I would not have any regrets. Obviously, the goal, as it is everywhere, is to put yourself in the position to make the playoffs, make a run at it and win a world championship. We’ve done that before. That was with a completely different team and there are very few guys here that were a part of that team. The next team that does that would have been a completely new process. It is not like you won them back-to-back with a lot of the same guys, or you won two over the course of three years with a lot of the same guys. It would be a completely different group of guys, which is part of the challenge and part of the fun.”
Talking about how good this locker room is, even in the offseason, do media reports about the head coach disrupt it?
“I don’t think it disrupts it. I think we know this – we’ve got great decision-makers in this organization, from Sean (Payton) all of the way up to Mickey (Loomis) to Mr. Benson. There are no knee-jerk reactions. There are well-thought out decisions. There is a plan that is put in place, and typically that is everybody getting together, coming up with that plan and executing that plan together. There are not decisions being made behind closed doors, excluding certain others. It’s a team deal. Whatever decisions that are made, we all know that it is in the best interest of the team, and once that decision is made, we are full steam ahead with that. We’ll see what happens here over the next however long, and then once the plan is put in place, here we go, full steam ahead.”
There are those of us that think that (Sean Payton) will have a hard time leaving and that you two are kind of like Siamese twins; do you think that he would have a hard time leaving you?
“Obviously, we have a strong relationship and a strong bond. I don’t necessarily know all of the circumstances at play here. We’ll see how that shakes out. We obviously have a strong relationship.”
How do you feel about the season you put together, especially with the two injuries you fought?
“It could always be better. Dealing with the shoulder earlier in the year was – obviously, I’ve had, just like anybody that plays this game, a lot of things over my career that potentially could have sidelined you, and that you have to fight through. I remember having to miss a game so that was difficult, just to absorb that fact at the time. I felt like I responded well from that, just the way that my body felt and the way that my body responded, just kind of my plan for rehab, mindset and all of those things. That, for me, as you get older, one of the things that comes with the aging process, as people say, is that you’re not going to recover as fast. I’ve said it many times, I feel like there is nothing that I can’t do now that I couldn’t do 10 or 15 years ago. That includes my recovery, and I think a lot of that has to do with the people I have around me, the people in the training room and my routine. As long as I am having fun, staying healthy, and keep playing at a high level, I’m going to play as long as I can. You’re going to battle through these things throughout your career."