Sean Payton: Keenan Lewis' release by Saints came down to 'availability'

Injuries kept Keenan Lewis to six games last season and just one practice in Saints training camp this summer. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Based on Sean Payton’s comments Saturday night, it was apparent that he and the New Orleans Saints had grown weary of waiting for cornerback Keenan Lewis to get back on the practice field with a lingering hip/sports-hernia injury.

Payton said the decision to release Lewis ultimately came down to “availability.”

“You know, he’s 52 weeks post-surgery,” Payton said -- a reference to Lewis’ original surgery around this time last year. “We wish him well. I think ultimately it was just trying to get him on the field. It’s just been ... it seems like a long time.”

Lewis, 30, did play in six games last season, but he was never fully healthy and underwent two more surgeries in December and January. Then he had another setback in June that led to him practicing only once during training camp.

Lewis then made it clear both privately to the team and publicly through the media that he didn’t want to return to the field until he was closer to 100 percent so he didn’t risk further setback.

Apparently that didn’t sit well with the Saints, since they released him even though his 2016 salary of $2.7 million is fully guaranteed.

Lewis also suggested in interviews with ESPN on Friday that he was released in part because he never meshed well with defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.

However, when Payton was asked if he saw tension between Lewis and Allen, he said, “I don’t think so. We didn’t have a chance to. He wasn’t on the field.”