Cowboys' Jerry Jones Hasn't Talked to Sean Payton After Saints Exit Despite Rumors

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 28, 2022

FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 17:  Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones  prior to the National Football League game between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys on October 17, 2021 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.    (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he's made no contact with former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, who stepped down from that role on Tuesday.

Jones told David Moore of the Dallas Morning News the Payton situation wasn't a factor in the team's evaluation of its own coaching staff following the 2021 season.

"I understand the speculation. Sean is an outstanding coach. But I haven't talked to him and am not in any way part of his departure there in New Orleans," Jones said Friday. "He didn't have any place in anything I'm doing regarding our staff."

The Cowboys' longtime owner also told Moore the status of head coach Mike McCarthy was "never in question" and the hope was to keep the staff intact, though defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore attracted outside interest.

"My goal was to keep the continuity of this group together. We met many times face-to-face with Dan, myself and Mike, to coordinate and talk to him," Jones said. "We were very much in a competitive environment because we felt Dan did have the opportunity to be a head coach."

Quinn informed interested teams Thursday he was sticking with the Cowboys, per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. Moore has a second interview scheduled with the Miami Dolphins about their head coaching vacancy, according to the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Dallas won the NFC East with a 12-5 record during the regular season, but it was eliminated by the San Francisco 49ers in the opening round of the playoffs.

While the quick exit raised questions about McCarthy's status, Jones is trying to push aside rumors the coach's status was in jeopardy before the focus shifts to the 2022 campaign.

McCarthy has compiled an 18-15 record in two years with the Cowboys after going 125-77-2 across 13 years leading the Green Bay Packers' staff, highlighted by a Super Bowl XLV title.

Meanwhile, Payton posted a 152-89 mark during his 15-year tenure with the Saints and won a championship in Super Bowl XLIV.

The 58-year-old California native said stepping down from the Saints didn't represent a retirement from coaching, but also noted he wasn't planning an immediate return to the sideline in 2022.

"I don't know what's next—and it kind of feels good," Payton told reporters. "But, man, I felt like it was time. ... But not with any regret. There's some excitement, like, 'All right, what's next?'"

Jones' comments should quiet the speculation in the short term, but the rumors of Payton potentially taking over in Dallas will likely return if the Cowboys fall short of expectations next season.