Bradley Handwerger / Sports Reporter
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NEW ORLEANS Drew Brees said Sunday the timing of Sean Payton coming to agreement with the Saints on a contract extension was important.

His reasoning?

'Everyone can plan accordingly,' Brees said.

And what does that mean?

'Refresh, get your minds right and get yourself mentally ready because when we come back in April, it's on,' Brees said.

Consider that statement shots fired.

Brees never really considered the possibility of Payton not returning to New Orleans. Hs said as much early in November and reiterated that point a week ago.

The quarterback's offseason plans now likely involve preparing those teammates who haven't played under Payton to be ready to go all in, something they might not be used to.

'It's going to be an eye opener,' Brees said. '...This is not our standard, what happened this year. Sean is going to come in (champing) at the bit and we're going to be ready to roll. This offseason can't come fast enough. I'll tell you that now.

Payton was suspended for a year after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the coach didn't exercise his responsibility in stopping a three-year bounty program administered by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

The suspended coach hasn't been able to have any contact with the Saints, including players and coaches, while away from the team.

What Payton will find upon his return is a group of players and coaches who, under trying times, stuck together, Brees said.

'I think our coaches this year did a phenomenal job,' Brees said. 'I think Sean would have been so proud of the role a lot of guys took on that might have been a little different than they otherwise might have in his absence.'

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