Sean Payton's future remains a mystery to Saints players

METAIRIE, La. -- Sean Payton’s coaching future remains a mystery around New Orleans Saints camp, where sources said he did not address it during Monday’s end-of-season meeting with players.

Payton talked about the team’s future as he normally would in that meeting, according to the sources. Payton also did not address the media Monday. His season-ending news conference is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

Payton was expected to meet with general manager Mickey Loomis at some point Monday afternoon to discuss the direction of the franchise and likely to determine whether or not Payton will be free to discuss coaching vacancies with other teams.

In the meantime, players continued to say Monday morning that they “hope” Payton will stay but don’t know what to expect.

“I’ve been seeing all the speculation and stuff, so we’ll see. I’ve been on Twitter reading all these things, but you never know,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “I love Coach Payton. Obviously he’s one of the best coaches in the league. He’s sought-after ... I hope he’s here. He’s the coach who drafted me, he’s the coach who gave me an opportunity. So I hope he’s here.”

Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he has a good feeling about Payton and others returning in 2016 -- himself included -- but he admitted that was mostly his optimistic nature.

“Again, I’ve voiced this for the last few weeks, I’m very hopeful that we’re all gonna be here and prepare ourselves to make a run at it here over the next few years,” Brees said. “I don’t know all the scenarios. I just feel like we were [on] this trajectory for a long time, and then I think last year, and we’ve talked about this, I felt like that was the first time it dipped. But now we’re back on this trajectory again.

“I feel like we’re about to make a jump, and I feel like Sean is a part of that. I hope that I’m a big part of that. I know there’s guys in this locker room that are gonna be a big part of that. But there’s always those question marks every offseason, especially the day after. ...

“So we’ll see what happens here over the next however long, and then once the plan is put in place, man, here we go, full steam ahead.”

Some players, like veteran offensive tackle Zach Strief, continued to express confidence that Payton will stay.

“I don’t think, for one, there’s a better place for him to be, and I don’t think there’s a better coach for us to have. That’s just how I feel,” Strief said. “There’s no, ‘We’ll try some unknown and see how that goes.’ I wouldn’t understand the logic, personally.”

Other players, both on and off the record, just sounded eager to find out what’s going to happen.

“I tell people all the time, I’m a fan that happens to punt,” punter Thomas Morstead said. “I love this team and love this city. And I’m excited to see all the different things that could potentially happen. Obviously it seems like there’s more rumors swirling this year than normal. But whatever happens is gonna happen, and it’ll be exciting to see what happens.”