Sean Payton: Saints not concerned with lack of picks

The New Orleans Saints sent a 2019 fourth-round pick and a 2020 seventh-round pick to the New York Giants in exchange for cornerback Eli Apple, a scenario leaving the Saints without a 2019 first-, third- and fourth-round draft pick for now.

Saints head coach Sean Payton, however, isn't looking too far ahead in the future.

Instead, Payton's sights are set on the present and what Apple provides to a 5-1 team preparing for the second half of the season.

"We felt like it was in our best interest," Payton said Wednesday in a teleconference with members of the Saints media corps. "We felt like it was going it help us this year."

Payton didn't quite say it, but it would be reasonable to translate the last sentence to the Saints shoving their stack all-in on the 2018 season.

The scenario has merit when considering quarterback Drew Brees isn't getting younger. And numerous Saints players told over the summer that they are aware the window is open now given the team's foundation to get the 39-year-old Brees back to the Super Bowl for an opportunity to win another championship.

Brees himself hinted strongly at his desire for another ring during his postgame speech after becoming the NFL's all-time career passing leader on Oct. 8.

"Obviously, this is special, guys," Brees said in a locker room speech after being handed the game ball for setting the record. "I hope everyone in this locker room knows that each and every one of you is a part of this and forever will be.

"But this is not the reason that I'm still playing this game. This is a special moment, I'll remember this forever. But I came back for one reason and you guys know what that is. So, let's keep taking steps one at a time, man, because I've got my sights, you have your sights, we have our sights set on something even greater."

Meanwhile, the addition of Apple bolsters the Saints' pass defense, which enters Week 8 ranked 28th in the league, and Payton expressed excitement to have him.

Apple, whom Payton said the Saints evaluated fully leading to the 2016 draft, reunites with former Ohio State teammates Marshon Lattimore, Michael Thomas and Vonn Bell.

While Payton said the team plans to work in Apple in practice this week while he absorbs the playbook, a decision hasn't been made on how much the third-year cornerback will play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Still, whenever Apple is ready for full action, the former 2016 first-round pick of the Giants will likely pair up with Lattimore on the outside, and either Ken Crawley or P.J. Williams will slide to the nickel cornerback position.

As for only having one pick in the first four rounds in 2019, Payton emphasized the primary focus falls on the Vikings and Apple's presence improves the defense.

"We'll find a way to get a draft pick or two back," Payton said. "That's easy to do. So, I'm not concerned to answer your question right now. Obviously, we value the draft picks and we feel like it was an opportunity to make our team better."

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