When Sean Payton flipped on “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” on Monday night, he knew his franchise quarterback might be in for an up-close reptilian encounter.
What Payton didn’t know was how close. With Grylls — a popular figure Payton wasn’t familiar with — watching closely, Drew Brees jumped on a crocodile’s back in order to kill the animal for dinner.
“He is throwing a noose around an alligator’s (actually crocodile’s) mouth, and I am watching our quarterback jump on it, and it was all news to me,” Payton said. “I had heard something three, four, five months ago about him jumping on an alligator, but like I said, I didn’t envision the environment or the set-up to be like that.”
Payton thought his franchise quarterback would be in a controlled environment.
“I had heard about this thing, and my impressions were this is kind of a Sea World environment where he jumped on an alligator,” Payton said. “What I saw the other night was completely (different). First off when you live in Louisiana, you don’t have to go to South America to jump on an alligator.”
Brees was familiar with the shows Grylls has done in the past.
But he wasn’t really expecting to end up on the back of a crocodile.
“I knew I would be getting outside my comfort zone a little bit with maybe some of the heights and the snakes and different things,” Brees said. “Did I expect to be killing a crocodile on that trip? No. And then eating it for dinner, but when you are in the moment, you kind of just go primal.”
For his part, Payton had a good sense of humor about the whole thing. Before Brees’ weekly press conference with local media, Payton snuck in and put an alligator head on a chair next to the podium.
But would Payton let his quarterback do it again?
“No,” Payton said. “No, no.”
While it seems doubtful that safety Jairus Byrd and running back C.J. Spiller will play this week against the Arizona Cardinals, things took another step toward that reality Wednesday.
Both players sat out of Wednesday’s practice because of knee injuries. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (toe), running back Tim Hightower (knee), cornerback Keenan Lewis (hip), and linebacker Davis Tull (shoulder) also did not participate.
Cornerback Brandon Browner and running back Khiry Robinson practiced. Both players were recently fighting injuries.
Lewis, Spiller, Tull, Ellerbe, and Hightower were spotted at practice during the portion that is open to the media. Byrd was not in the practice facility during that period.
NFL teams rarely cut ties on a second-round pick before his second season.
But in the case of Stanley Jean-Baptiste, New Orleans saw no other option.
New Orleans gave Jean-Baptiste, who was picked up in Detroit, plenty of opportunities to prove himself this preseason. No Saints defensive back came close to matching the 216 snaps Jean-Baptiste took in the preseason, but he struggled against both Houston and Green Bay, earning a minus-4.9 grade from Pro Football Focus.
A developmental cornerback like Jean-Baptiste can stay on the roster if he can be an impact player on special teams, the same way that Brian Dixon has the past two seasons.
Jean-Baptiste also struggled there.
“When you have an investment like a second-round pick in a player like that, it’s difficult to do, and yet we thought it was the best thing for us as a team when it came to putting together our secondary,” Payton said. “Part of that is, hey, can he play in the kicking game and be an asset, not a liability. You value those picks, especially those ones that are that early, and it just didn’t work out.”
Max Unger has agreed to rework his contract to free up some cap space for the New Orleans Saints.
The center converted $3 million of his $4.5 million signing bonus, which will clear up $1.5 million in cap space in 2015, according to a source, and gives the Saints $6.5 million in cap space this season.
Unger’s base salary was not previously guaranteed, but the new bonus is guaranteed.