NFC South: NFL owners meetings

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Most of the NFC South has had a strong presence in the lobby of The Breakers on Sunday afternoon, except for the New Orleans Saints.

I have not seen a single Saints official or employee so far at the NFL owners meeting. Adam Schefter reported earlier that coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis are expected to attend the meeting. Ed Daniels of New Orleans television station WGNO has reported that a team official said the New Orleans delegation will be landing in South Florida late Sunday night. The meeting does not officially start until Monday morning.

The big question is if Payton and Loomis will discuss their three-year bounty program that led to the coach getting a one-year suspension and the general manager being suspended for the first eight games of the season.

The NFL has urged them to address the media at some point during the meeting, but the decision is ultimately up to Payton and Loomis.

I think it would be a good move for Payton and Loomis to step in front of the cameras. I’m sure Saints fans would like to hear what they have to say. I also think Payton’s case for reinstatement (his suspension begins April 1 and it will be a year before he’s eligible for reinstatement) would be enhanced if he steps forward and publicly apologizes.

I also think it would be a very good idea for Saints owner Tom Benson to address the media – not for the sake of the media, but for the sake of Saints’ fans – to speak publicly for the first time since this scandal started. Benson generally doesn’t do a lot of interviews and doesn’t seek attention. But this is one situation where he has to step forward and make some sort of statement.

Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt if Benson were to say who will take over as head coach while Payton is suspended.
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- There still is a chance free-agent tight end Jeremy Shockey could return to the Carolina Panthers.

A team official said the Panthers remain in contact with Shockey's agent and the tight end has told the team he wants to play another season. No deal is imminent but the two sides are keeping an open dialogue.

For the record, “the snitch’’ on this was not Warren Sapp.

Shockey, 31, joined the Panthers last season. Although Shockey produced a career-low 37 catches, the Panthers believe he's a perfect complement to Greg Olsen, the team’s top pass-catching tight end. There were previous reports that Shockey had told the New York Giants he was interested in playing for them. That’s where Shockey began his career before being traded to the New Orleans Saints in 2008. There have no indications the Giants have any interest in bringing Shockey back.

Update: Shockey's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, just arrived at the NFL owners meetings and confirmed that he and the Panthers continue to talk, but said no deal is imminent.

Waiting for Sean Payton

March, 25, 2012
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- I just arrived at The Breakers, the resort where the NFL owners meetings will be held.

I just got set up in the media work room and didn’t see any sign of New Orleans coach Sean Payton as I came through the lobby. But Payton reportedly will be in attendance. His suspension for his role in the Saints' bounty program officially begins April 1. I wouldn’t be surprised if an unwritten part of his punishment is to come to the meeting and face the media. There is a breakfast scheduled for NFC coaches and media Wednesday. I think there’s at least a chance we could hear from Payton before that. If Payton doesn’t talk until the breakfast, there likely will be 15 other NFC coaches sitting at empty tables because Payton will get all the attention.

It also might be in Payton’s best interest to talk about what’s happened. If he comes out and is apologetic, that will only help when it’s time for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to decide if Payton will be reinstated once his one-year suspension is up.

The meeting doesn’t officially start until Monday morning. But owners, coaches and general managers are arriving. I’ll go work the lobby. Check back later in the afternoon. I’ll let you know if there are any Payton sightings or anything else from around the NFC South.