How Sean Payton Stole Tommy Stevens From Carolina in the Draft
There is no love lost between division rivals in any NFL division but when it comes to the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints there has been a little extra there over the recent past.
You think back to Cam Jordan trolling Cam Newton with a bottle of wine in 2018 via John Katzenstein on Twitter:
It's all in good fun and according to an in-depth article on The Athletic from Jeff Duncan, the fun continued on the Saints side during the 2020 NFL Draft.
New Orleans had made three picks through the first two days of the 2020 NFL Draft (Cesar Ruiz 1st Rd., Zack Baun, and trade back into day two for Adam Trautman both in the 3rd Rd.) and because of the move made to draft Trautman they were left without any capital on day three.
However, as the day unfolded the Saints brass identified players that they either considered trading back into day three to go get or players that they wanted to target as undrafted free-agents.
One guy caught their attention, a guy they didn't expect to be drafted in Mississippi State QB Tommy Stevens. Now, you'd look at his numbers and realize they don't whole-heartedly believe he'll be a QB in the league but they view him in the same mold as Taysom Hill.
Therefore, according to Duncan in the article, Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis reached out to Stevens and his agent Buddy Baker to gauge their interest level. Well, apparently Stevens had already been in contact with his old Grad Assistant from his days at Penn State in new Panthers OC Joe Brady, also a former Saints coach under Payton.
Carolina was offering him a deal where he would make a $15,000 signing bonus with $30,000 of his salary guaranteed and the Saints were willing to match that if he'd sign with them after the draft.
Stevens said, no dice.
So, the Saints upped the offer to where $144,000 of his salary would be guaranteed, not a bad chunk of change for what will end up being a flex guy.
Again though, Stevens said, no thank you. He wanted to respect the commitment he had with Brady and the Panthers.
At this point, Sean Payton was growing impatient.
What do they say? We always want what we can't have. In this case, the Stevens camp was telling him you can't have me, I'm going to your division rival.
That apparently, again according to Jeff Duncan's conversation with Sean Payton in The Athletic, was not going to fly with petty Sean Payton.
He and Mickey Loomis were able to get back in the game by trading a 2021 sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans for their 240th overall pick in the seventh round of the 2020 draft.
"Not so fast." was the first text sent out by Payton to his old buddy Joe Brady.
He then went onto Stevens and Baker, “I’m tired of asking. Now, I’m taking.”
Is there anybody better in the NFL than petty and confident Sean Payton?
This is the purest form of Sean Payton and I absolutely love it. The confidence mixed with the bravado of this power move to not only go get a player that they really wanted but to steal him right out of the grasp of a division rival was just the icing on the cake.