Citing lack of passion, Kreutz walks away from Saints

New Orleans center Olin Kreutz announced via his agent Friday that he's leaving the Saints because he doesn't feel like he can continue to compete with the same level of passion on a daily basis, The Times-Picayune reported.

"He decided, 'If I can't bring that same passion every day to work, I'm not gonna just sit here and collect a paycheck,'" his agent, Mark Bartelstein, said. "That's the way he is. Olin's a little different than most guys. People say all the time that it's not about the money. That's really how it is with him. It never has been."

The 14-year veteran spent the first 13 seasons of his career with the Chicago Bears, where he was a Pro Bowl selection for six straight years from 2001-06. Kreutz, 34, signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Saints during the offseason and missed two games with a knee injury before returning to the starting lineup last week.

Saints coach Sean Payton said he was a little surprised by Kreutz's decision but that it will not serve as a distraction for the team.

"When the train begins to slow down and you get the feeling it's about time, there are a lot of emotions involved in that," Payton said. "I think more than anything else, it's hard to do what these guys do and it's hard to do it four years, let alone 14 years."

Payton said Brian de la Puente will replace Kreutz.

Bartelstein told The Times-Picayune that no conflict between Kreutz and the Saints led to his decision, and Kreutz has not officially decided to retire yet.

"We pull for him and wish him well," Payton said.

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