Sometimes Drew Brees wonders how some members of the media remain employed.
Certainly, the Saints quarterback wasn’t including The Advocate in that statement, but some of our brethren have made it a sport to speculate where Brees and coach Sean Payton will end up next season. That doesn’t sit well with Brees.
Almost none of those so-called “splash reports” put the duo back in New Orleans next season. The New York Daily News even put him on its back cover under the headline, “Get Dat Guy!” on Nov. 25.
That wasn’t the first time the paper made a plea for Brees. It also cried out for him last offseason, suggesting the Jets make a trade for the Saints quarterback. ESPN made the same suggestion earlier this year.
It’s been an exhausting run of reports, and if we’re being honest, Brees would look as out of place in Jets green as Brett Favre did after his first faux retirement from the Green Bay Packers during the 2008 season. He might not agree green isn’t a good hue for him, but Brees agrees with everyone else who correctly thinks it would be crazy for the Saints to dump the one player who single-handedly ensures New Orleans a shot to compete every week.
“I chuckle. I wonder where they come from,” Brees said. “That’s kind of what ... I wonder how some people in this industry have a job reporting some of the stuff that they report, with their sources of their cousin or whoever (they’re talking to for) information. That’s why I just kind of laugh, I chuckle.”
Not everyone is able to laugh off the reports as easily. They’re too consistent and pulsating. A new one seemingly arrives every Sunday to overshadow that week’s game. Be honest: How much interest do you have in this week’s game against the Falcons?
You might not care otherwise, considering the season is over, but it seems like everyone is just waiting for the season to end to see what happens next.
And while Brees is probably a safe bet to return — or safer — the situation surrounding Payton is murkier.
In the past few weeks, Payton has been mentioned alongside the San Diego Chargers, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts. It’s probably safe to bet that someone will show up in the next few days to proclaim the Philadelphia Eagles, who just fired Chip Kelly, have interest in the New Orleans coach within the next few days.
That report will follow the same pattern of the others. It will breathlessly proclaim Payton could have interest in joining the team and spell out why he would be a solid fit and how it would give him a chance to escape the perceived roster mess in New Orleans. It will then note Payton might not have interest in leaving New Orleans at all.
So, maybe. But also maybe not.
Here’s the truth: No one has any idea what Payton is going to do. If for some reason Payton’s eyes have started drifting, he probably doesn’t even know what he’s going to do yet. The jobs haven’t even opened up yet.
The Saints coach has offered a few soft denials, saying that he envisions himself staying here well into the foreseeable future. He’s also made it a point to mention his future plans for the team several times over the past few weeks, so perhaps he’s telling the truth about his intentions and motives.
It’s entirely possible all the talk is completely baseless and it truly is the result of people being fed bad information. These rumors seem to come up every offseason and though they’ve never been correct before, they’re coming from somewhere and it’s certainly not someone’s cousin whispering in their ears.
But true or not, the fact that people are even talking about these things has created a state of uneasiness around the team.
Even some players admit they’ve gotten caught up in the talk at times this season. They see the tweets and reports on TV. They’re as ubiquitous as potholes on a New Orleans side street. Try as you might, but it’s nearly impossible to dodge them all.
But the players also know they can’t control the talk and try to focus only on the things within their control.
“We ignore it. It has nothing to do with our game play,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “It doesn’t change anything. You are what you put on tape. It shouldn’t impact anything football-wise. It might cause some questions outside of the building, but it’s not a problem.”
It might not be a problem, but it’s also extremely irritating to some guys. Offensive lineman Zach Strief almost seemed insulted when asked about the reports surrounding Brees and Payton — especially Brees.
He believes Brees is about to complete the best season he’s had in three years and shipping him out of town to avoid his $30 million cap hit next season would be a huge misstep.
“I don’t really understand anybody discussing, especially with him, I don’t get it,” Strief said. “I think when you get into the 15th year of your career, every year you’ll have that discussion come up because he’s old. He doesn’t act or play old, but he’s old. He’s an old man. I don’t know what to tell you.”
But considering the Saints have underachieved, Strief understand why people are speculating — even if he thinks the premise is crazy.
“(With no playoffs) what are we going to talk about?” Strief said. “Well, we’re going to talk about some tragic situation where the Hall of Fame quarterback gets kicked out of the organization. I think it’s ridiculous.
“Personally I can’t fathom it happening to that guy at this point in his career. He’s too good. There’s like five of them in the world, on the whole planet, really, there’s like five or six of him. When you have one, you don’t get rid of him.”
No, you don’t. And you don’t let one of the top coaches in the NFL walk out the door without a fight.
There’s a game in Atlanta on Sunday, but the result of these two conversations are really the only thing that matters right now.