USA Today Sports

Payton dishes at the NFL owners meeting

Kristian Garic
March 27, 2018 - 8:49 am

For the first time since Tom Benson passed away, Saints head coach Sean Payton talked about the loss of the franchise's owner and what he believes will a seamless transition to Tom Benson's widow Gayle Benson as she assumes ownership of the team. 

"Mr. B was very organized.  The leadership starting with Mrs. B, there is a large group of people that have worked together a long time. Depending on the club, this transition might be entirely different from club to club. Mrs. B will be fantastic in her position.  I think it could be more of a challenge if not for the forward thinking of Mr. Benson."

The Saints are two weeks into free agency and have made a couple of splashes this off-season, adding safety Kurt Coleman prior to the start of free agency after he was released by the Carolina Panthers. 

"We saw a need for a safety.  I'm familiar with Kurt [Coleman].  We played them three times last season; that's a lot of film study."

The Saints also added versatile linebacker DeMario Davis from the New York Jets, a move Payton really liked.

"He has some position flexibility that we like."

Davis recorded over 100 tackles last season with New York. 

The Saints were measured and cautious in free agency.  The price point was a little to high on some players in the first wave of free agency. Payton explained part of the team's approach in free agency.

"The first week, the numbers can get high.  Often times the second, third and fourth week and the next month, you're able to find a player that fits; and the price point is a little more palatable."  

The Saints currently have about $7 million in cap space; but if they want a certain player they can always find the money to get the player in free agency.  I expect the Saints to be on the prowl for a pass rusher either in this wave of free agency or the draft. 

"We went into this process it's a must, we haven't addressed it yet. That will be important."  Payton continued, "We have to accomplish that. There is still a lot of time and opportunities prior to the draft. We've got to look closely at it." 

The Saints go into every off-season with three categories to improve their roster. Want, Need, and Must.  Musts have to happen as he explained.  Other 'musts' for the Saints is TE and WR. 

The Saints are also in the middle of preparing for the NFL draft next month.  Payton and the Saints had the best draft in the entire NFL last seaso,n and history has shown them it's important to find talented players.  Payton insisted there are a few traits the Saints insist they find with rookies, however. 

"We can't find our selves settling when it comes to make up when it comes to toughness. You have to look for traits you value.  Look at last year's group. They're highly driven players. That's what we're looking for."

As for the outlook for the 2018 team, Payton is really excited about this team.

"This is a different team, there will be a lot of components that are the same. I do think this is a team that see's themselves being successful, it's a young highly motivated team. I like these guys." 

The players are highly motivated; and so are the fans, who think there would be nothing better than to win another Super Bowl for Tom Benson in the city Saints fans love to hate: Atlanta, home of the Falcons. 

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