INDIANAPOLIS —Sean Payton doesn’t go to bed worried about who is going to be his quarterback next season or any other season in the future.
With everyone outside the organization wondering if quarterback Drew Brees will receive a contract extension, those inside the building feel as if the deal will get done in the near future. Brees, 37, is entering the final year of his contract and is due to count $30 million against the salary cap next season.
Payton, who spoke with the NFL Network on Thursday, said you can count him among those who are confident about the situation.
“I think the Drew Brees contract that will get done very easily,” Payton said. “I think (general manager) Mickey (Loomis) and (Brees’ agent) Tom (Condon), I know they already visited. Mickey and I just spoke briefly about it.
“I go to bed thinking about improving our defense. I don’t mean to skirt that, but I just know there will be an extension and I know things will get worked out. I just know where he’s at and his mind set and his competitive nature of wanting to be successful, and I know without speaking for him, hey, there’s still more success to be had.”
Payton himself might be in line for his own extension soon.
The Saints coach told Pro Football Talk that he is closing in on a new contract extension with the team and said he wants to stay here for at least four or five more years.
There was rampant speculation last season that Payton was going to leave town, but he ended up staying in New Orleans and vocalized that he remains dedicated to his job and does not want to coach anywhere else.
John Elway finally had enough.
After answering seven questions during his NFL scouting combine appearance about the future of Peyton Manning, Elway finally issued one last, definitive answer on how he plans to approach the future with Manning mulling retirement.
A reporter immediately followed up by asking another question about Manning, earning a wry deflection from the Broncos’ Hall of Fame quarterback-turned-general manager.
With all eyes on Manning’s potential retirement, Elway is giving his soon-to-be 40-year-old quarterback a little more time to think it over.
“I met with Peyton a couple of nights ago,” Elway said. “We had a good talk. As I said after the game, we’re going to give him as much time as he needs, and he still needs some more time. We’re going to afford him that time. He’s deserved that after 18 years in this league. ... That’s where we left it. We’ll stay in touch, and in the next week or two, we’ll get back together.”
Broncos backup Brock Osweiler, who led Denver into the playoffs after Manning went down with a plantar fascia injury, will be a free agent this season, meaning Denver has until March 9 to sign Osweiler before he hits the open market.
“We’re really not in a hurry,” Elway said. “Everything is still real fluid. We know where Brock is. Brock knows what we have to offer.”
Most NFL observers expect the Broncos to move on from Manning even if the legendary quarterback returns.
But Elway didn’t offer any confirmation of that line of thought on Thursday.
“Peyton is the same old Peyton that he was,” Elway said. “It’s going to come down to what Peyton wants to do. If he wants to go through that grind and wants to [do it] again — we’ll have those discussions. Peyton led us to a world championship and showed you the championship quarterback that he is.”
Lost and found
Jeff Driskel, unable to reach stardom at Florida, found himself at Louisiana Tech last season, passing for 4,026 yards, 27 touchdowns and putting himself right back on track or a shot at the NFL.
But Driskel believes he could be in the same position if he’d stayed with the Gators.
“I believe I could’ve,” Driskel said. “I don’t think it was a matter of competition, I think it was a matter of me playing well and throwing it to the right guy. With
certain looks, if you go back and watch the tape we played an SEC team, we played Mississippi State, and I was very productive.”
Driskel completed 25-of-41 throws for 303 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in a 45-20 loss to the Bulldogs.
But even though he thinks he could have done the same thing at Florida, it doesn’t mean he regrets leaving a team that would become the SEC East champs for Louisiana Tech.
“Love the University of Florida, graduated from there, left a lot of great people behind, but at the end of the day, I thought it was the best move for me moving forward, and it wasn’t a situation where I was forced out or bad blood,” Driskel said. “It was just a matter of moving forward and getting into a new situation, and it turned out to be a really good decision on my part.”