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Sean Payton says it “wasn’t a smart decision” to let Malcolm Jenkins leave the Saints

Plus, the New Orleans head coach talked about Darren Sproles and his incredible work ethic.

Wild Card Playoffs - New Orleans Saints v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

During Sean Payton’s call with the Philadelphia media on Wednesday, he talked a bit about former Saints players Darren Sproles and Malcolm Jenkins, who both joined the Eagles in 2014. And, even though those guys haven’t been in New Orleans for a few years now, they both still hold a special place in the head coach’s heart — even after Jenkins gave their sideline a middle-finger salute in November.

The head coach had no shortage of compliments for Jenkins, calling him one of the most important parts of their Super Bowl run in 2009 even though he was only a rookie. Payton went on to say that he has a ton of respect for Jenkins as both a person and a player.

“He’s a fantastic, fantastic player and just as good of a person.”

Payton was asked about the middle-finger moment with Jenkins earlier this season, and he noted that they talked afterward and there was no love lost between the two, saying the safety is “one of my guys”.

“I’ve said this, and I just said this recently, but probably one of the bigger mistakes we’ve made. And I think you’ve gotta be able to look at him and say ‘How did that happen?’. Letting him out of the building certainly wasn’t a smart decision.”

Jenkins isn’t the only player Payton had compliments for, either, with the head coach saying that running back Darren Sproles is one of the smartest players they’ve ever coached in New Orleans.

“Rarely on the field does he ever do something that surprises the quarterback. He’s got a great feel for the passing game. He’s got very good instincts as a runner.”

Payton went on to laud Sproles’ preparation each week, saying that even during walk-throughs, the running back was taking things up a notch. He noted that how Sproles approaches each day is rare, and that he was “fantastic” for the Saints during his three years there, and has had a great career overall.

The Saints’ losses have definitely been the Eagles’ gains, and both have been an integral part in Philadelphia’s success the past couple of years.

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