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Sean Payton: 'Probably very unlikely' all 3 QBs return

Sean Payton was fortunate to have an excellent quarterback room from top to bottom in 2019.

It doesn't sound as if that group will return in its entirety in 2020.

"To have all three of those guys back is probably very unlikely," Saints coach Sean Payton said Thursday on Super Bowl Live. "You really appreciate the season you had when you had all three of them."

Payton needed all three of his quarterbacks -- Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill -- to make it through 2019. Each served their own purpose, with Brees continuing as the veteran face of the franchise, Bridgewater filling in for an injured Brees for six games and Hill serving as a Swiss Army knife. The result was a collaborative effort to help the Saints to a 13-3 mark.

Payton raved Thursday about Bridgewater's play in place of Brees, and said he believed Hill will eventually "find himself as a starting quarterback in the NFL." But none of the three are under contract for 2020.

The Saints' course of action begins first with reaction to Brees' decision on his future.

"We talked about this and it was something that I think most importantly for him he wanted a little bit of time to spend with his family," Payton said of Brees. "I think none of us try to make any decisions when the season ends right away. You need a little bit of time after it. I think we'll know sooner than later.

"It's not anything about money, it's not anything about other teams. It's strictly the toll and the energy required to do what he does day in and day out during the football season and the sacrifices that involves relative to your family as well. I think with that information, we want him back. He played at an extremely high level and when he got hurt, Teddy Bridgewater went in and he was outstanding. So Teddy's a free agent and fortunately we've got time before free agency."

It's fairly easy to see the internal conflict with which Payton is struggling, and it's likely that same conflict extends to the rest of the Saints' decision-makers. This is a franchise at a crossroads.

Thanks to Bridgewater, the Saints proved capable without Brees. But Bridgewater understandably wants to start in the NFL, and he'll get a chance to do so somewhere.

It'll be up to the Saints to decide whether they want to run it back with Brees or commit to Bridgewater, and that can only come after Brees decides if he wants to play again at all. Hill's future as a versatile athlete who is more than a quarterback fits in there somewhere as well, but only after Brees' situation is decided. And so, we wait.

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