New Orleans coach Sean Payton addressed the media Tuesday evening and talked about the decision to release veteran defensive end Alex Brown.
Brown "It was a hard decision," Payton said. "We spent a lot of time on it. A lot goes into it, and I said this to him today, [that] it wasn’t that we drafted a young player at that position. I think you try to factor in all the practice snaps and all the game film. It was something that after going through it all and looking at the timing of it, there’s still that opportunity within this next week that he’ll have a chance to sign with someone else and also that door is not totally shut if that opportunity presents itself here. Nonetheless, it was a hard decision we had to make."
What I take out of that is the Saints weren’t impressed with what they’ve seen out of Brown in preseason games and practices. I don't think they were impressed with him last season either and Brown was scheduled to make $3 million this year. The Saints also freed up $3 million in cap space with the move.
Payton also didn't rule out the possibility of bringing Brown back at some point, but I think that's a long shot. The Saints did draft defensive end Cameron Jordan in the first round this year, but Payton didn’t go ahead and name the rookie the starter.
"To some degree, we have less time this season than normal to evaluate players without the offseason," Payton said. "We’re going to have to look closely at our rotation. I think the actual starters that you guys know, especially on the defensive front and the receiver position, who lines up there to start the game is going to vary with how many starts they get. Obviously we’re going to substitute a handful of guys in there. That being said, in this time frame of a week and a half we have to look closely at who’s opposite of Will (Smith)."
Jordan, who sat out Tuesday's practice with an unspecified injury, could factor into that rotation, along with veteran Jeff Charleston. Turk McBride and Junior Galette are two other defensive ends the Saints like.
Smith is New Orleans’ top defensive end, but there’s uncertainty with him. It remains possible he could be suspended this season for testing positive for a banned substance in 2008. But Payton said the uncertainty around Smith didn’t impact the decision on Brown.
“We really tried not to because then we would be making a decision predicated on a possible suspension,’’ Payton said. “We really tried to look at it and evaluate all aspects of it but I would say that it didn’t come into play because if it had come into play more we would have gone in a different direction.”