Saints have become model of stability

Real quick, name the most stable franchise in the National Football League?

By one measure, it’s the New Orleans Saints. Yes, the same franchise that was a laughingstock for its early decades and wasn’t even sure it would stay put after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, has become the model for the rest of the league.

Check out this column by Jeff Duncan and scroll down a ways to find a very important nugget. Duncan points out this will be the sixth consecutive year the Saints have had the same coach, general manager and quarterback. That’s Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis and Drew Brees and that’s a very strong combination.

There’s not another franchise in the league that has had the same coach, general manager and quarterback for the last six years. Yes, not even the Patriots, Colts, Steelers and Packers, who are usually pointed to as the models for stability.

The Saints reached the NFC Championship Game in 2006. They slumped a bit in 2007 and ’08, but bounced back in the 2009 season to win the Super Bowl. They went 11-5 last year and reached the playoffs. Expectations are high for 2011 and the Saints are working on extending their stability deep into the future.

They took a big step in that direction Monday when they extended Payton’s contract through 2015. There also have been reports that there are talks between the team and Brees about a long-term extension.

“It’s a performance-based business,’’ Payton said, shortly after agreeing to his contract. “Our jobs as coaches, our jobs as front office people, and our jobs as players are to be competitive and win. I think when you have that success, then these types of things happen.

“Each year you see six or seven head coaches that are out of jobs and we’ve started a while back in 2006 to build something that was consistent with trying to build a program. That’s something that really never stops. You don’t ever really arrive, you’re just constantly ongoing, developing players, and with the way our league is now, there’s always that turnover in five to six years. I think we have seven or eight guys who were here in 2006. I think when you look around the league, that’s pretty much the case with most teams so it’s not like it was 20 years ago where the draft picks come in and a couple of them beat out a couple veterans and the team stays intact. The offseason has become important, certainly the continuity with the coaching staff is important, all of those things.”