On Thursday, Sproles said he felt "disrespected" by how Payton gave him the impression that the team would release him, and then found out in May through Twitter that he had been traded to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sproles said the same thing not long after he was traded, but it hasn't changed how Payton views his former running back.
"Number one, I would list him on easily my top-five favorite players to coach," Payton said.
He also called the decision to trade Sproles "difficult," and said he couldn't meet Sproles face-to-face with the news because the player was out of town, but that he spoke to him on the phone.
Payton said he believes the fact that the Saints are 1-3 and the Eagles 3-1 has contributed to the popularity of the story following Sproles' Thursday comments.
Sproles has 18 carries for 121 yards and two touchdowns in four games this season with the Eagles. He also has 16 catches for 198 receiving yards.
New Orleans hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, while the Eagles host the St. Louis Rams.
- Molly Geary