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With Drew Brees in the room and Patrick Mahomes sliding, 2017 draft almost got awkward for Saints

After 16 years coaching of the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton talks about his future plans, how he feels about the current team in Dennis Allen's hands and looking at the game from different perspectives.

We’ve done a pretty good job of keeping under wraps some of the new reporting contained in Playmakers, my book about he past 20 years in the NFL. Which means that I trusted the right people to whom advance copies were sent, and/or that the untrustworthy ones never bothered to read it.

We’ve strategically posted some of the new information, given the basic realities of capitalism. Here’s another nugget from the book, one that had not yet previously seen the light of day.

During the 2017 draft, Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes slid through the top 10. The Saints held the eleventh overall pick. Saints coach Sean Payton privately loved Mahomes. The Saints, as we understand it, were definitely planning to draft him if he were available.

As the selections crept closer to eleven, into the draft room walked quarterback Drew Brees, who was touring the facility with some friends. Which meant that Brees and his friends may have been literally in the room when the Saints drafted Mahomes. At that point, the Saints decided to let Brees know that he was potentially going to witness the selection of his eventual replacement.

Obviously, the Chiefs kept that from happening, by trading up to No. 10 with the Bills, and snatching Mahomes.

I mention this eleven days before the official publication of Playmakers because, in a recent interview with, Payton told the story of how the Saints were seriously considering drafting Mahomes, with Brees and friends entered the draft room just in time to see it happen.

“You can’t make this up,” Payton told Clay Skipper of “He had never been in a draft room in how many years. I said, ‘Hey, there’s a good chance we’re taking Patrick Mahomes and it’s not gonna impact [you]. You’re going to finish, retire, whatever. But we might draft Mahomes here and I just want to let you know.’ He’s like, ‘Oh yeah, all good.’”

Making the potential selection of Mahomes even more plausible is the fact that Brees, as of 2017, was seriously considering retirement. Brees has explained that previously; it came up during one of his late-career Super Bowl-week visits to PFT Live. Assuming he’d shared his thought process with the Saints, it would have made the decision to target Mahomes even more realistic, and prudent.

So what would have happened if the Saints had taken Mahomes? Would Brees have left after the 2017 season, when his contract expired? Or would he have simply retired? It would have been very difficult to hold Mahomes down, given the overall skillset he instantly displayed, first on the practice field and then in the preseason for the Chiefs.

For more stories like this regarding the inner working of the NFL over the past 20 years, order Playmakers now.