By the afternoon, the 13-year veteran had a one-year contract with New Orleans and was snapping the ball to Drew Brees in practice.
The deal is worth roughly $2 million with a chance to reach $4 million with incentives, NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported Friday, citing league sources.
"He looked at this as an opportunity and he left a couple other options on the table that paid a lot more money," Payton said. "His main interest is finding the right fit and right team and felt real good about what he saw."
The move gives New Orleans an accomplished center following the departure of three-year starter Jonathan Goodwin, who agreed to a free-agent deal with San Francisco this week.
Kreutz went straight to the locker room after his first practice, telling a Saints public relations official that he wanted to wait a day before talking about his decision.
His agent, Mark Bartelstein, said by phone that his client thought the Saints were the best fit for him at this point in his career.
"Olin's made a lot of money playing football and money was not going to be the driving force for him," Bartelstein said. "He felt like this was really the right spot. ... The Saints were limited in what they could do (because of the salary cap), so (Kreutz) had to make a decision and felt this was a great opportunity."
"His experience, his competitiveness -- all those things are important and certainly will be important for us," Payton said. "He's a tremendous competitor ... and he's been with a team that's experienced winning."
Before Kreutz's arrival, Matt Tennant, a 2010 fifth-round draft choice out of Boston College, was working as the first-team center and hoping for a chance to win the starting job.
"The situation is fantastic for Matt," Payton said of Kreutz's addition to the squad. "He's got a chance now to continue his growth. ... He's got a chance to spend time with a 14-year veteran and see what are the things this guy's done so well to play so long and play at such a high level."
Notes: Payton said running back Chris Ivory had sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia on Friday and that the procedure went well. Payton said Ivory's recovery from that injury is expected to take about three weeks. Ivory already was not practicing because he is still rehabilitating his left foot, which he broke in the last regular season game of 2010. Payton said trainers thought Ivory was about three weeks from returning from his foot injury as well, so it made sense to also have the sports hernia surgery, rather than waiting to see if Ivory could play through the nagging pain in his groin. "You can still rehab the foot without stressing the surgery he just had, so he's working through two things." ... wide receivers Marques Colston sat out his first practice of training camp on Friday. Payton said he was just getting some rest because of a sore knee. ... Also missing practice Friday were left tackle Charles Brown (hamstring), cornerback Tracy Porter (knee), defensive end Greg Romeus (knee), Ezra Butler (hamstring), wide receiver Jarred Fayson (ankle).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.