Sean Payton Reportedly to Retire After 15 Seasons as Saints Head Coach

Adam WellsJanuary 25, 2022

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton walks on the field before an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, in Landover, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

In a shocking move, Sean Payton is stepping down as head coach of the New Orleans Saints, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport

Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football reported he's retiring altogether.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler polled NFL executives and reported Jan. 18 that "several well-informed people brought up" Payton as a candidate to become a television analyst in the near future. This move would open up that avenue.

Payton has been the Saints head coach since 2006, helping turn the franchise into one of the NFL's best during his tenure. He led the team to its first Super Bowl title in the 2009 season with a 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. 

An accomplished offensive coach, Payton's partnership with quarterback Drew Brees led to the Saints posting historic numbers. Brees retired from the NFL after the 2020 season as the league's all-time leader in passing yards. (That mark has since been passed by Tom Brady.)

After a rough three-year stretch from 2014 to '16, Payton made the Saints into one of the most dominant teams in the NFC. They had a streak of four consecutive NFC South titles from 2017 to '20. 

The 2021 season was arguably one of Payton's best coaching jobs. It was his first season without Brees at quarterback, yet he still had the Saints in playoff contention until the final week of the regular season with a 9-8 record. 

The Saints have consistently had one of the NFL's best rosters over the past five years. Their defense was an elite unit in 2021, finishing fourth in points allowed per game (19.7). 

Payton leaves behind a successful, albeit complicated, legacy with the Saints. His best moment was leading the franchise during that Super Bowl run, but he was also suspended for the entire 2012 season stemming from his role in the Bountygate scandal.

Even with that suspension on his resume, Payton is the longest-tenured head coach in Saints history. He is the franchise's all-time leader in games coached (241), wins (151), playoff games (17) and playoff wins (nine).