Saints head coach Sean Payton talked about his close relationship with former Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey. Payton met with the media yesterday at the NFL meetings held in New Orleans. Here is more from Mike Triplett of The Times Picayune and

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton said the team's decision to release tight end Jeremy Shockey was especially difficult for him because of their close relationship that dates back to their days together with the New York Giants.

"He's one of my favorite players before and he plays with passion. He brought a swagger to what we do," Payton said Tuesday. "The one thing that's interesting when you win a Super Bowl, it can really validate any decision you've made up until that point in regards to free agent moves, players drafted, coaches hired. That doesn't mean there aren't mistakes on the road to a Super Bowl. But that game and after the game seeing him and his mother is pretty strong."

Payton went on to discuss the emergence of young tight end Jimmy Graham, as well as the consistency of veteran tight end David Thomas. While Thomas is a free agent, it appears the Saints will resign him once the lockout is lifted.