Saints head coach Sean Payton says he visited with Hartley for around half an hour about the decision to part ways. Payton describes the visit ad "real good" and Hartley as "frustrated."
"It was real difficult. One thing we talked about – and I think that it probably happens more with kickers than any other position – he's an extremely talented player," Payton said. "He's going to play in this league, I think, for quite a long time and have success. The way that these doors kind of open and close, we just agreed that right now, don't ever say never in regards to being back with the team. With that being said, with what he's done and been a part of, it's difficult. Especially with the success he had in that run in 2009. He has great leg talent."
Payton is confident however that cutting Hartley now and bringing in former Pro Bowler Shayne Graham is the right decision.
"If we're not receiving the right scheme, we can change that. If we're not receiving the right results in regards to takeaways, we can make sure that that is emphasized," Payton said. "It's a little bit more nebulous when it comes to the confidence of a kicker. I think he had a great week of practice last week, and yet it didn't manifest itself in the game. That was a tough decision."
The Saints worked out several kickers before settling on Graham.
"His workout was better. He seemed to be a little more accurate, a little more stronger. He was clearly better," Payton said. "His experience, obviously, is helpful and is a plus."
Graham has journeyed across the NFL, actually playing for the Saints briefly in 2000 as an undrafted free agent. Fans will best remember Graham for his 7 seasons with the Bengals where he made the Pro Bowl in 2005.