"It's tragic, and it's sad," New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton told Peter King of The MMQB regarding the Reuben Foster situation. "I just feel awful when those things happen."

After being selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the 31st-overall pick, Foster shared the story with the media that he was on the phone with the Saints, who were ready to select him with the 32nd pick when the 49ers traded back into the first round to snag the former Alabama linebacker.

"Foster told the Niners—and later told me—that Payton was on the phone with Foster minutes before it was going to be the Saints' choice and said the Saints were going to pick Foster," wrote King.

The Saints wanted to speak to Foster's girlfriend, who was from the New Orleans area.

"According to Foster, Payton asked the girlfriend, 'Are you going to be the guidance to be sure Reuben doesn't get into trouble?'" wrote King. "Payton confirmed that, and said periodically over the years he asked a prospective player's significant other if the Saints could count on her to help steer the player away from trouble."

Foster described the conversations in more detail during last year's introductory press conference with new teammate Solomon Thomas, who was also a first-round selection. He said the Saints were certain that they were going to select him and were welcoming him and his girlfriend when the 49ers came calling.

"Yeah, they were certain they were going to pick me," Foster said.

Payton told King on Saturday that the Saints likely would have still chosen Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk with their selection even if the 49ers had not jumped ahead of them to select Foster.

Nearly a year after that draft, Foster is in a whole lot of legal trouble and is facing potential prison time. The young linebacker was arrested following an altercation at his residence on February 11 that allegedly left his 28-year-old girlfriend bruised and with a ruptured eardrum. She told responding officers that Foster dragged her by her hair, physically threw her out of the house, and punched her in the head eight to ten times, according to a release from the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

Foster now faces charges of domestic violence with an allegation that he inflicted great bodily injury, forcefully attempting to prevent a victim from reporting a crime, and possession of an assault weapon.

While Payton is sympathetic about the whole situation, he seemed to King to be relieved that he isn't the one having to deal with it right now.

"But Payton had more of a there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-us feeling Saturday than a feeling of spiking the football in the end zone because Foster went elsewhere," wrote King.

As for the phone call, Payton won't admit that the Saints were already welcoming Foster to the team as the linebacker described.

"This was part of our fact-finding late in the round," Payton said. "I hadn't had a chance to meet his girlfriend during the pre-draft process, and we were still in the process of deciding. I think we were going to take Ramczyk anyway, but I wanted to talk to her about Reuben."