Sean Payton Leaves Door Open for Return to Coaching, TV Role After Saints Exit

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 25, 2022

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 12: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT)  Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints in action against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 12, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Saints defeated the Giants 30-9. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Sean Payton stepped down from his post as the New Orleans Saints head coach Tuesday, though he left open the possibility of returning to football in some capacity in the future.  

Nick Underhill @nick_underhill

Payton: “I don’t like the word retirement.” Says he still has a vision for doing things in football.<br><br>“That could be coaching again in the future, but that’s not where my heart is at all right now”

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

There are many things Sean Payton could do this year; coaching an NFL team is unlikely to be one. He remains under contract to New Orleans for three more seasons. He wants some time to decompress, and the Saints would want compensation if they ever were to relinquish his rights.

"As I sit here today, I don't know what's next. I haven't spoken to anyone from a media outlet relative to doing TV or radio," he told reporters. "Maybe that opportunity arises. ... I think I'd like to do that and I think I'd be pretty good at it." 

Payton made it pretty clear he won't be coaching next season, however. 

"I get it. I understand it," he said of any speculation that he might join a different NFL team. "My plans are not to be coaching in 2022. That's just how I feel."

Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo

Sean Payton says he felt coming into this past training camp it might be time to walk away. Says he didn't mention to anyone, just kept working hard. Says he wants to see his kids more, travel more, get in shape.<br><br>"There's some excitement. What's next? I don't know what's next."

He also revealed Tuesday that he reached out to former quarterback and current NBC analyst Drew Brees prior to his announcement and confirmed that he contacted him during the season, when both Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian landed on the COVID-19 list ahead of a December matchup with the Miami Dolphins.

"I spoke to [Brees] at length last night about this decision for the first time and he was fantastic," he told reporters. "And I did call him during the season and we discussed him coming back. And I think both of us agreed, based on our lineup versus Miami it was a good thing he stayed [with NBC] and didn't come."

Ian Book instead started that game, a 20-3 loss that saw the backup quarterback sacked eight times. 

As for his rooting interest in the current NFL playoffs, Payton apparently will be pulling for anyone playing the Los Angeles Rams:

Ari Meirov @MySportsUpdate

Sean Payton: “We didn’t make it to the playoffs and we’re rooting against the Rams because of that.”<br><br>Saints would've been in the playoffs if the Rams beat the 49ers in Week 18. (Non-PI call probably also on his mind).

Payton, 58, spent 15 seasons as head coach of the Saints, registering a 152-89 record. He led the team to the playoffs nine times and a title in the 2009 season. Outside of the season he missed in 2012 after the NFL suspended him the entire year for the Bountygate scandal, the good times far outweighed the bad during his tenure.

Before Payton, the Saints had won just one playoff game in the history of the franchise, dating back to 1967, and had only reached the playoffs five times. His stretch as head coach was easily the best since the Saints' inception, turning a team that had been nicknamed the Aints into a perennial contender. 

New Orleans Saints @Saints

"Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be your head coach for 16 years," - Sean Payton to <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Saints?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Saints</a> fans <a href="https://t.co/QsE2EXkv6H">pic.twitter.com/QsE2EXkv6H</a>

"Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be your head coach for 16 years," Payton said to fans of the team at his press conference Tuesday. "I appreciate each and every one of them. And so, thank you for sticking with us in the good times and the tough times. They've been outstanding. And so it's really that feeling of being grateful for having a chance to have been a part of this organization and coach for them."