METAIRIE, La. — Malcolm Jenkins admits he expected to hear more about Sean Payton’s contract status the past six weeks once it became public knowledge that the NFL had nixed his extension with the Saints due to language in the document.
This being the week of the Dallas game, it was inevitable that Saints player would be asked about the possibility of Payton ending up with the Cowboys, where so much speculation has him heading.
Wednesday, sure enough, Jenkins was among those asked about Payton’s situation.
And while fans and media may pay attention to what may happen, Jenkins says the players have not.
“I don’t think we pay attention to it at all,” Jenkins said.
That’s a thought several players, including quarterback Drew Brees, echoed.
“I’d be shocked if he wasn’t here next year but right now there are plenty of other things for us to think about or worry about,” Brees said. “Once the season ends, we’ll get back to that.”
In the past six weeks, the NFL has given the franchise the go-ahead to start negotiating a re-worked contract with Payton. Additionally, the league has had internal discussions on how and when to reinstate the suspended coach from his year-long suspension.
His original extension in 2008 was due to expire after this season, which would make him a free agent on the open market. However, there’s a chance that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could toll over the contract for another year, keeping him in New Orleans for at least another season.
Regardless, several players inside the Saints locker room believe Payton isn’t going anywhere.
“From my standpoint and I think what everybody thinks is that Sean will be back,” Jenkins said.
Six weeks ago, Brees said he wasn’t worried. Wednesday, he again said as much.
“I have not even thought for a second that he wouldn't be here, honestly,” Brees said. “Not even thought for a second. I haven't talked to him but I haven't even thought it for a second that he wouldn't be here.”
If true, that would be news to the ears of Jason Garrett, the Cowboy’s current head coach. Garrett understands that Payton is close with Dallas owner Jerry Jones.
But Wednesday he sidestepped questions about a potential Payton takeover from media who cover the Saints.
“We just focus on what we need to do to be our best,” Garrett said. “We have great challenges every Sunday in this league. We have to make sure our focus is right. That’s something I preach to our team and to our football players and certainly as coaches and individuals, we have to live that as well.
“There’s always a lot of stuff going on on the periphery, we just have to focus on doing our jobs as well as we’re doing them.”
Meanwhile, back in New Orleans, Jenkins understands what’s going on with Payton is part of the NFL. He doesn’t think the result this weekend, however, will have any bearing on what ultimately happens.
“I don’t know if the outcome of this game is doing to define anything whether he wins or lose,” the safety said. “That stuff has no concern to me.”