Report: Sean Payton Has Not Committed to Return as Saints' HC for 2022

Adam WellsJanuary 23, 2022

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JANUARY 09: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints on the sidelines before the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on January 09, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

Despite being under contract for three more seasons, Sean Payton's status as head coach of the New Orleans Saints is reportedly uncertain.

Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Payton has not yet committed to returning to the Saints in 2022.

Per Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, Fox Sports has targeted Payton as a potential replacement for Troy Aikman as the television analyst for games. 

Aikman told Sports Illustrated's Jimmy Traina in December he's not sure if he is going to go to Amazon when the streaming site gets the Thursday night football package starting next season. 

"Maybe," Aikman said. "I’m not sure where all that might lead or how things end up."

Payton signed a five-year extension with the Saints in 2019 that CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora noted at the time was "one of the largest among coaches of North American professional sports" with an average salary of $13 million.

The deal tied Payton to New Orleans through the 2024 season. He is already the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL, having just completed his 15th year with the Saints. (Bill Belichick has been with the New England Patriots for 22 seasons.)

There has been speculation in the past about opposing teams having an interest in trading for Payton. La Canfora reported in 2017 the Saints and Indianapolis Colts had "back-channel communications" about a deal, but those talks broke down.

Rapoport noted if Payton isn't with the Saints, it would be "highly unlikely" he coaches another team in 2022.

"Rather, this would be a mini-retirement to recharge for a year after a season several people close to him described as incredibly challenging and difficult," Rapoport wrote.

Payton is, by far, the most successful head coach in Saints history. The 58-year-old is the franchise's all-time leader in games coached (241), wins (152) and winning percentage (63.1). 

The Saints have won seven division titles in 15 seasons under Payton after capturing two division titles from 1967-2005. They defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV in the 2009 season.