Saints operating out of brewery due to NFL's Covid-19 restrictions

Amos Morale III
April 01, 2020 - 8:12 pm

The NFL closed all team facilities, including the New Orleans Saints’, in order to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

That doesn’t mean that the Saints coaching staff isn’t busy preparing for the 2020 NFL Draft. 

A few members of the Saints front office are evaluating prospects and discussing draft strategy from the Dixie Brewery in New Orleans East.

“Mickey (Loomis), myself, Jeff (Ireland), with the position coach, maybe a few others, are in a large meeting room spread out with a lot of monitors. Depending on who we're reading, what player group we're reading, different people Skyping in,” Payton said. “We've started this morning, this will go on for really the next 11 or Days or till Easter.”

The staff is prepared to conduct this year’s draft from that location.

“We have the board set up here,” head coach Sean Payton said. “This facility is fantastic, but if I showed you a picture of the room, it's a big boardroom, clean , it’s brand new. There's no one out here. We have our board set up, we have seven monitors. This is where we're going to be. This is where we're planning on setting up shop for the draft and we're operating accordingly.”

Payton said the Saints have been following CDC guidelines as they try to operate safely out of the temporary base of operations.

“We’re coming in, every one of us took our temperature before we went in the room. There are seven of us total in the room. We’re certainly distanced away from each other. There's plenty of space….

“And then the monitors have all the scouts and everyone else (conferenced in). So total people involved in the meeting might be 20, total in the room would be six or seven.”

Payton was diagnosed with Covid-19 in March but has since been cleared after quarantining for two weeks. He joked that other staffers have still been avoiding him at meetings in the brewery.  

“I’m kind of like the guy they all want to sit away from (laughter) and I'm like ‘I'm the safest guy in the room here,’” he said. 

Payton said there have been some challenges with this draft process as typical contact with prospects following the NFL Combine has been impossible. 

 The Saints have been in contact with several prospects through video conferencing programs.

“We spent a whole month with virtual meetings,” Payton said. “We had quarterbacks, we had linemen, anybody that we didn't get completely at the combine, anyone we had follow up work to do. 

“These players understand how to get online and boom, you can go through series of questions. I wasn't a part of the virtual meeting with (quarterback) Jordan (Love), but I know we've done a ton of those in lieu of the pro days, where you might have those chances to do it in person.”

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