NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - The Saints are being forced to employ Plan C when it comes to their draft headquarters. First, the NFL’s closing of team facilities evicted them from their regular office space so they moved to the suddenly unused Dixie Brewery to prepare for late April’s selections. But as of Monday, the league is forcing all staff members to be remote and virtual.
While free agency rolled on despite Coronavirus and the draft is still set to happen on time, albeit with drastic changes, offseason practices are now in the crosshairs to be altered. The NFL sets the league calendar months in advance and had Monday, April 20th marked as the date that clubs with a returning head coach could begin their offseason program “I think we like everyone else are waiting and I think it is going to be challenging to have an offseason program," Payton told reporters on April 1st. “Certainly, we’re not going to have an offseason program that isn’t without change and look in 2011, which was the lockout season, there was no offseason program. In other words, we had the draft and then we saw everyone at the start of training camp and off we went. We’ll be prepared as a club and as a team to operate accordingly and really wait for guidance from the league office.”
2011′s lockout offseason is the most comparable experience Payton could draw upon for this year’s impending challenges but was quick to point to the myriad of hurdles his group has cleared since 2006 "I think one of the things we do well is adjust. Whether the schedule changes and all of a sudden you’re playing at a different time. You’re having to play over in London. Maybe there’s a hurricane that forces you out of the city for a week. No different than any one of those things, be it at a larger scale, this is certainly at a large scale, we’ll adjust accordingly and get the information to our players and then plan accordingly.”
Throughout the challenges for a football operation, Payton is staying focused on the overall goal "The most important thing for every one of these guys involved and I said it on our conference call yesterday with my coaches, with everyone in football operations. It is the health and safety of our families. That’s number one. When something like this is taking place, anything outside of this seems very, I would say down the road relative to priorities and I know it’s the draft and it’s important, but it’s not as important as New Orleans and Louisiana’s recovery in our ability to fight this, because this month is going to be our toughest month.”