PHOENIX — Sean Payton looked around at the crowd of reporters and chuckled, knowing why they’d come to his table at the NFC coaches breakfast Wednesday morning.
He then shot down a report that his New Orleans Saints had interest in troubled quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Payton had breakfast with Manziel during Super Bowl week, but it was only a get-acquainted meeting. Payton noted he was suspended in 2012 for his role in the Saints’ bounty scandal and got to “watch from afar” Manziel’s Heisman Trophy season at Texas A&M.
“It was my first time having a chance to talk to him. I’ll leave it at that,” Payton said. “That was just what it was. I’m sure he’s got a handful of things he’s got to do stepwise to get himself back in position to sign with a club and play football again. It made sense to me to get to know him a little bit.”
The Saints are set for the near future at quarterback with Drew Brees. He was the only QB to play for them last season.
Manziel didn’t play in 2016 after being released by Cleveland. He served a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse, was involved in a domestic violence incident with his former girlfriend and didn’t played well with the Browns.
“His skill set is unique, he has good feet, can create,” Payton said before directly addressing the story that the Saints were considering adding Manziel to the roster: “I think a part of the (news) report insinuated things were moving in that direction. I’ll just say it’s false.”