- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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That came as Brees was looking for a long-term contract and shortly after coach Sean Payton had to leave the team to begin a season-long suspension for his role in the bounty scandal.
I long have been of the opinion that offseason workouts -- at least the early portions -- aren’t nearly as important as a lot of people think. But the Saints’ situation last year was different due to Payton’s absence.
If ever a team needed its quarterback and leader in April, May and June, it was the Saints. But Brees wasn’t there. He worked out on his own, but his absence made a lot of Saints fans question the loyalty of a guy that previously could do no wrong.
The Saints went through their offseason program with Chase Daniel getting all the first-team work at quarterback. The negotiations with Brees dragged on before a contract finally was agreed to in July.
Brees was happy because he got a deal that pays him an average of $20 million a year and the Saints were happy because their quarterback made it to training camp on time.
But the whole saga made me re-think my philosophy on offseason programs. Maybe they’re more important than I thought. The Saints had a lot of other distractions last year, but Brees and the offense weren’t always as precise as they had been in recent years.
As the Saints started 0-4 and finished 7-9, you couldn’t help but wonder if things might have been a little different if Brees had been there for the offseason program.