This may be the last season for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, coach Sean Payton said Tuesday morning during an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up.”
Despite agreeing to a two-year, $50 million deal earlier in March, Payton called the Saints’ quarterback situation unique because “with our quarterback Drew Brees, he’s announced he’s coming back for his final season.”
The 2020 season will be Brees’ 20th in the NFL and his 15th in New Orleans.
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This is the first time someone with the Saints has talked publicly about 2020 being Brees’ last run.
Back when Brees announced in February that he was returning, he made no mention of hanging up his cleats after this season.
“I look forward to the grind and the journey, for the reward at the end will be worth it!!! Love you #WhoDatNation,” Brees wrote in the Instagram post announcing his return. “Let’s make another run at it!”
The subject of Brees came up after Payton was asked about the role of quarterback Taysom Hill moving forward.
“I think the role is pretty clear,” Payton said of Hill. “First and foremost, we still view him as a quarterback. We spent a lot of time this offseason discussing our vision for him this season at quarterback, but then also at the F position. What I mean by that, it’s that ‘slash’ tight end, receiver.
“He’s a tremendous blocker. He’s physical. I don’t think people realize how fast he is. He’s probably one of the three or four fastest guys on our team. Playing that F position, he’ll certainly be involved in the kicking game. That’s one he takes pride in and is very good at.”
Payton said Hill believes he is of starting caliber and the team shares the sentiment.
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Payton said the team has to carry a third quarterback, and will continue to do so in 2020, because of how they use Hill on gameday — because of the nature of his hybrid position and amount of plays Hill is on the field.
The Saints only have two quarterbacks in the fold right now: Brees and Hill. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the team’s other QB in 2019, agreed to sign with the Carolina Panthers in March.
Payton also went on “Get Up” to talk about his case of coronavirus. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 19, four days after his symptoms appeared, and is the only known NFL coach to have tested positive thus far.
“Fortunately, I was one of the — I guess you’d say — majority that had it and yet didn’t have any of the respiratory symptoms that we’re seeing so often with this virus.”
Payton said his symptoms were chills and a fever, which lasted one day. Payton, who coughed a couple times during his interview, said he was mostly asymptomatic soon after receiving his test results. Even though he’s feeling better, Payton said he’s partaking in social distancing.
“It’s quite a difficult period of time, and I say that, obviously, for so many different reasons and for so many different people in our country,” Payton said.
The NFL as a whole is seeing the effects of coronavirus, too. The first domino to fall was the cancelation of the annual league meetings, which were scheduled for March 29-April 1 in West Palm Beach, Florida.
The NFL draft will still begin April 23 in Las Vegas but without events or a crowd. The league has not yet shared final details on how it will execute the draft.
And offseason team activities have been postponed indefinitely, raising the possibility of teams first working out together in July when training camp rolls around — drawing a similarity to the 2011 lockout season.
Payton said that potential scenario is realistic.
“Obviously that impacts each team a little differently,” Payton said. “I think it’s more difficult for the teams with new coaches. I think it’s more difficult for the teams that have had a greater amount of player turnover. I think, to some degree, it can benefit a team like ourselves that’s experienced, same coaching staff, a lot of the roster intact. …
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“It seems like as we follow news daily, which is so hard to do now, because it’s dramatically changing each day — for me and for us to project where we’re at come July and August, it seems like that’s two years from now.”