"I know we would love to have him if it happens, but we would prefer Payton to be there with his team, to lead us on the way he's been doing."
The Saints' offseason training program begins April 16. Thomas is hoping that, no matter what happens, the bounty scandal will be settled by then.
"Hopefully, this doesn't keep lingering on," he said. "You don't want this to linger on while we're preparing for a season. You want to make sure everything is focused on one thing: Trying to get to that Super Bowl."
AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich in Washington, D.C. and AP Sports Writer Brett Martel in New Orleans contributed to this report.
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