Saints, Marques Colston get emotional with future in doubt

TAMPA, Fla. -- Marques Colston might be back with the New Orleans Saints next year. But just in case he isn’t, the Saints cherished his game-winning touchdown in Sunday’s 23-20 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for all it was worth.

Colston was awarded a game ball after turning a short pass into a 36-yard TD with 1:57 remaining. And the usually-stoic veteran even shed a tear, fellow receiver Robert Meachem told The Advocate.

“You couldn’t have scripted a better ending,” said Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who acknowledged that assistant coach Joe Vitt had made the team aware of certain milestones they could reach in the season finale -- including the fact that Brees and Colston could move into fifth place in NFL history with 68 touchdowns as a duo (they broke a tie with Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne).

Brees, Meachem and receiver Kenny Stills all insisted that they expect Colston to be back in 2014, even though his future is in doubt since he’s due $7 million in salary and bonuses.

But the emotion they all expressed made it clear that they’re prepared for the possibility Colston, 31, might be done after nine seasons with the Saints.

It’s also possible that Colston, who holds franchise records for receptions, receiving yards and total touchdowns, could take a pay cut to stay with the team. Colston declined to speculate on those scenarios during a rare visit with the media on Friday. Then he politely declined to speak with the media after Sunday’s game, as usual.

Colston finished the season with 59 catches for 902 yards and five touchdowns -- all of which set or matched career lows in a healthy season. The only year his numbers were lower was 2008, when he missed five games due to injury.

"He's a special guy,” Brees said. “You could not ask for a better teammate, a better person, a better guy to come to work with every day. He's done it for nine years the exact same way. I’m tellin’ ya, there's not a more consistent player or person. One of the greatest teammates I've ever had the chance to play with.

“And I know we've got some more time together, but I think you just cherish each and every moment.”