They need help on defense.
“We have to improve our defense,” Payton said on Good Morning Football. “I was just asked this question earlier on the show. Specifically, we’ve got to find a way to get a couple pressure players in this draft. I think this draft is a pretty strong draft defensively when you’re looking at safety, when you’re looking at corner. It’s a strong draft at running back as well. But I think both in free agency and the draft, we’ve got to help that side of the ball. This is the year we finished in a lot of tough games and had some tough losses. But I love the draft class we just had and we need to partner with another good one.
Payton and the Saints made a solid move in the first round with cheap NFL jerseys last year, taking defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins. They went on to draft receiver Michael Thomas who, in almost any other season, could have made a case for offensive rookie of the year.
For Saints fans, it was encouraging to hear Payton mention free agency because it will take years to build this defense through the draft alone. Drew Brees told Good Morning Football on Thursday that he plans on playing for a few more years, but is also 38. This is a window that is rapidly closing.
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“I would like to thank all of these coaches for the work they have done for this club,” head coach Sean Payton said in a statement. “Specifically, Bill, Greg and Joe played a key role on teams that helped create a very special time in franchise history. They played an instrumental role in the development of countless players both on and off the field. I appreciate the contributions that these men have made to this team and wish them continued success.”
The moves indicate that head coach Payton will remain with the Saints in 2017, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.
“Of course there’s still open speculation with Sean Payton eyeing with some potential job opportunities at least with the Rams and some other places,” Rapoport said on Up to The Minute Live on Thursday. “But the fact that he seems to be making some staff changes, making decisions for the Saints in 2017 does indicate more strongly than his words ever could is that he’s staying in New Orleans for at least one more year.”
Vitt was with the Saints for 11 seasons. Vitt came to the Saints after serving as interim head coach for the final 11 games in St. Louis in 2005.
Loomis swatting away contract questions comes on the heels of Brees shrugging off queries after the season ended, saying he plans to play out the remainder of his contract and go from there.
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Brees will count $19 million against the salary cap in 2017. His contract extension came with three voidable years at the end that could result in $18 million in dead money on the Saints’ cap down the line.
While there are no definitive factors (other than perhaps age or fatigue of the process) to explain why this offseason’s approach is different after several years of contract banter. However, it appears neither side wants to stroll back down the endless string of “what will happen…” questions again.
Brees has the solace knowing he can’t be franchise tagged after the 2017 season. The Saints know they still have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL for at least one more year.
“We just finished the season,” Loomis added. “We’re just beginning the process of the upcoming season, so I haven’t given that any thought.”
Going year-to-year with Brees down the road could be beneficial to add flexibility for the normally cap-strapped Saints. Perhaps with the 38-year-old seeing the end of his career on the horizon, he’s comfortable not maximizing his financial leverage this time around.