A fixture in Chicago for 13 seasons before his departure, Kreutz made an impression with the Saints before ever playing a snap for them.
Kreutz visited the Saints as a free agent days after contract negotiations between him and the Bears fizzled into an ugly divorce. On Kreutz's first day visiting the Saints, he watched the team take part in a training camp workout, and spoke to members of the organization.
Shortly after, Kreutz -- with a flight scheduled for 7:30 a.m. the next morning -- headed back to the airport Hilton.
"The next day, [Saints general manager] Mickey [Loomis] had a chance to spend time with his agent, and eventually get a deal done," Payton said.
After the sides signed the contract, the Saints immediately asked when Kreutz could return to start practicing with his new team.
"The answer was he had never left the airport Hilton," Payton said. "He had purposely not gotten on the flight, stayed there. Two hours later, he was at practice at center. So he's passionate about the game, and that's important."
Payton said Kreutz's transition to a new team has gone smoothly.
"His experience with our offensive line is fantastic because we would still be considered fairly young with the two guards that we have. From an experience standpoint I think [Kreutz has] really brought a lot to the room," Payton said. "From a skill set [standpoint], he's extremely athletic. He's real healthy right now. He understands what we're doing from a protection standpoint."