Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees announced his retirement from football last month, but his decision to hang up the cleats still hasn’t hit home for head coach Sean Payton.
Speaking with Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Payton said that Brees’ retirement won’t fully be realized until the Saints get back on the field in preparation for the 2021 campaign.
“I think it’ll be different the first time we have an OTA, the first time we have a minicamp or the first time we get into training camp,” Payton said. “It hasn’t hit you quite yet because you haven’t done anything football-related. You’re involved in draft work, free-agent work. I’m sure there’ll be a couple stages to it where it’s the first meeting, first practice and so on.”
The Saints have had to play stretches without Brees over the last two seasons, so they have become more adaptable with Tayson Hill and Jameis Winston at quarterback.
Nothing is set in stone, and it certainly seems like Hill and Winston will enter training camp as competitors for the starting job. Hill took over for Brees last season when he was injured, but Payton reportedly struggled with the decision to start him over Winston.
It will be hard for New Orleans to ever replace Brees, but Payton is hoping either Hill and/or Winston can keep the team competitive next season and potentially beyond.