When he spoke to reporters a couple of days before the Saints played the last game of their season at Tampa Bay on Dec. 28, veteran receiver Marques Colston refused to dwell too much on his short-term future.
His sole focus was Tampa Bay — even though the Saints were eliminated from the playoffs no matter what they did against the Buccaneers, Colston wanted to end his ninth season in the NFL and in New Orleans on a winning note, he said.
It was a good stance to adopt. Colston scored a 36-yard touchdown off a catch-and-run late in the fourth quarter that factored heavily into a 23-20 victory over Tampa Bay (2-14) and improved the Saints’ record to 7-9.
But when Colston appeared in the locker room at Saints headquarters in Metairie the next day, he no longer had the tunnel-vision-on-Tampa Bay excuse. The man nicknamed “Quiet Storm” stayed true to his famously reticent style and wasn’t all that forthcoming about what he envisioned next for himself. However, he did say it’d be very difficult for him if things were such that he had to leave the Saints in the offseason.
“You don’t have the success and build the relationships I have here and want to walk away from that,” said Colston, who holds the franchise records for regular-season catches (666), receiving yards (9,239) as well as touchdowns (68) and helped the Saints win their lone Super Bowl championship at the end of the 2009 campaign. “All of the … relationships … that I formed here in the locker room make you want to be here.”
Colston singled out two Saints in particular: quarterback Drew Brees, a seven-time Pro Bowler who’s thrown Colston every one of his touchdowns, and coach Sean Payton, who selected Colston late in the seventh round of the 2006 draft and has overseen a top-ranked offense five times in the eight seasons he’s been in New Orleans.
One of those times was this season, but the Saints offense had the fifth-most giveaways in the NFL (30), and its defense surrendered the second-most yards in the league to foil any playoff ambitions New Orleans had.
“At the receiver position, you’re kind of depending on all the pieces around you, even more so than at other positions,” Colston said. “(In New Orleans), you’re playing with a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback (and) a head coach that’s probably on his way there.”
Colston spoke frankly about being disappointed in himself this season — he dropped eight passes and lost two fumbles. He was less so when asked to talk about potentially adjusting the details of his contract if the Saints requested he do that or whether he could see himself playing for another team.
He is due to count $9.7 million against the salary cap next season for the Saints. If the team needs to save money against the cap, an obvious option is to lower his salary, though that’s not the only way to achieve savings.
Colston declined to respond to a question about what he’d be willing to do with his contract if approached about it.
“My plan is to get away (after) being grinding at this since March or April,” said Colston, referring to when the Saints’ offseason program began this past spring. “A day is not long enough to process it all. I fully plan on getting away and spending time with my family and addressing the business side when it’s time.”
Don’t expect to know much about what Colston is up to this season. He keeps a very low profile, best illustrated by the fact that he spoke to reporters twice all regular season.
Nonetheless, Colston did generate headlines by announcing later in the week that a challenging economic outlook had forced him to suspend the operations of an indoor football team he owns in his hometown of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The receiver said on the team’s website that it was with “great sadness” that he was shutting down the Harrisburg Stampede, which competed in the Professional Indoor Football League after winning the American Indoor Football League title in 2013.
Colston is also part owner of the Arena Football League’s Philadelphia Soul.