NFL

Smith Expects To Play In Divisional Round



Drew Brees does not expect to be playing for a different Saints coach in 2017 despite Sean Payton‘s name again being a constant in the coaching rumors section of the NFL news cycle. The quarterback who signed a one-year extension just before this season “absolutely” expects Payton to stay in New Orleans for what would be his 12th year with the franchise.

I’ve heard some of the same stuff that I heard last year, and I felt like I had a pretty good feeling last year,” Brees said, via Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. “And I don’t see why it would be any different this year.”

Payton has been connected with the Rams after a report emerged indicating the 52-year-old having “sincere interest” in acquiring the veteran coach in a trade. A report pegged the Saints as being open to exploring a Payton trade, with another denying the team was thinking of shopping him. The Saints have made the playoffs just once in the past five seasons, although the 2012 absence came without Payton due to the Bountygate suspension.

Here’s more from the NFC as teams make Week 17 preparations.

  • Saints outside linebacker Michael Mauti underwent surgery for a large intestine issue, leading to the Saints placing the fourth-year player on their NFI list in November. But the Penn State product revealed he hopes to play in 2017, Katzenstein reports.
  • The Saints tried out linebackers Frank Beltre and Deon Lacey, a source tells Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter). Earlier today, they signed linebacker Brian Blechen to their practice squad.
  • Carlos Hyde described the MCL sprain he sustained as being worse than the one that sidelined him at Ohio State in 2012, Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News reports. The 49ers‘ backfield starter will enter a contract year in 2017. He’s expected to return, injury problems notwithstanding, but Inman projects Trent Baalke and DC Jim O’Neil to be fired at season’s end. However, the reporter expects Chip Kelly and OC Curtis Modkins to stay, citing some sense of continuity is needed to avoid having four head coaches in four years. Inman also anticipates none of the 49ers’ three quarterbacks to be back but points to both Torrey Smith and Jeremy Kerley staying in what should be a turbulent offseason.
  • Tyron Smith expects to be ready to go by the time the Cowboys are due to play their divisional playoff game, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. The cornerstone left tackle said he did not have knee problems before spraining an MCL on Monday night.
  • After drafting wideouts the past two years, the Redskins figure to let DeSean Jackson walk, Elliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com reports. This would open the door for the deep threat to reunite with former teammates on the receiver-starved Eagles. This would make sense from a need standpoint, and there have been multiple connections between D-Jax and his former team, but Philly is projected to be $800K-plus over the cap in 2017 after signing numerous players to extensions this offseason. The Eagles would need to shed salary to make room for Jackson. For his part, the 30-year-old wideout said he’s “intrigued” about being a free agent.



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