Sean Payton and Drew Brees got a respite of sorts Wednesday from two of the biggest stories surrounding the New Orleans Saints organization this week — the NFL draft that begins Thursday night and Brees’ contract extension.
For the second year in a row, Payton and Brees were on the same team in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans Pro-Am, even though their tee time was delayed nearly four hours by severe thunderstorms and eventually shortened to nine holes.
Still, it gave both a chance to get away from it all, if only for a few hours, after brief interviews with local media.
Brees reiterated what he said a day earlier on the Dan Patrick Show: he’s confident he and the team will reach an agreement on a contract extension that would keep him with the team until he retires.
The five-year, $100 million contract the 37-year-old Brees signed in July 2012 is set to expire after the 2016 season, but it would be beneficial for the Saints to extend the deal considering his cap hit is scheduled to be $30 million this year.
During his pre-draft news conference earlier Wednesday, General Manager Mickey Loomis said he had no qualms about getting a deal done that would be good for Brees and the franchise.
“There’s no deadline, but I think we’re both confident we’re going to get it done,” Brees said, noting Saints’ brass has been involved with filling holes on the team and preparing for the draft. “That took up a tremendous amount of time from the combine (workouts) until now.
“Again, I don’t think there’s any rush,” he said. “I think we would all — myself, the Saints, fans, everybody — would love to see something done sooner than later.”
Payton, who acknowledged he signed the five-year contract extension given to him last month, said there was some misunderstanding about how the Saints tried to sign free-agent cornerback Josh Norman last week with the help of Brees’ restructuring his current deal.
“I think there was some misunderstanding in regards to our opportunity to maybe bring Josh Norman on board,” Payton said. “That would have been really more of a restructuring to create space, a little different than ultimately what Drew and Mickey and our organization are seeking.
“It’s worked out before, and there’s a lot of trust on both sides.”
Payton said he called Brees to talk about trying to get Norman, who quickly signed a five-year, $75 million contract with the Washington Redskins after his franchise tender was rescinded by the Carolina Panthers.
“There is a way to restructure at that time, but how on earth were they going to get a deal done in an hour?” Payton said of Brees’ deal. “It was about creating (salary) cap space and having an opportunity to possibly get in the mix. So it was a little different.”
As for the draft, Payton said he was excited to see if the team can acquire a handful of players that can help it overcome back-to-back 7-9 seasons.
The Saints have the 12th overall pick in the first round and a total of six selections in the seven-round draft.
“I feel like each year is a little different,” Payton said. “There are some needs for us, and you start over her on the defensive side of the ball. The scouts have done a great job, but the process is ongoing.
“We’re going to have an opportunity to get a real good football player (at No. 12) and get a handful of good football players. We understand the importance of a good draft certainly compared to a draft that doesn’t pan out as well. It carries through your program for a while.”
Loomis shot down reports that the Saints attempted to trade up to obtain the top pick and draft the successor to Brees, who was the San Diego Chargers’ starter in 2004 when they took Eli Manning No. 1 and then sent him to the New York Giants for Philip Rivers.
“That’s something I don’t control. … It wouldn’t be the first time I have been on a team where they took a quarterback in the first round, a very high pick, to come and take my position,” a smiling Brees said. “I would take the exact same approach now as I did then, which is, ‘It’s my team … it’s my job.’”
Follow Sheldon Mickles on Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.