The New Orleans Saints‘ season has already been finished for two weeks, and one issue has remained unanswered: will head coach Sean Payton return? Payton, who has three years remaining on his contract, went dark on the Saints. Payton has confirmed today that he will be stepping down as the Saints head coach.
Wait. What’s Going On?
We don’t know the future for Payton however. Payton is considered a top head coach and play-caller in the NFL. Since 2006, he has served as the team’s head coach, Petyon is 58 years old. After a season that numerous people close to him described as extraordinarily stressful and difficult, it would be a one-year mini-retirement to regroup.
The Saints in recent years haven’t been all that good in the playoffs. The Minneapolis miracle game where the Saints defense whiffed on a tackle to lose the game on the final play. The NFC championship game where the refs missed a blatant pass interference call that could have sealed the game for the Saints to move onto the Super Bowl and in 2020 a loss to the Buccaneers in the divisional round. Then future Hall of Famer Drew Brees retired from football. A tough go-round for the Saints since 2017. Lots of stress and heartbreak year after year for Sean Payton.
Looking to the Future
The Payton era in New Orleans will most likely be finished. It’s assumed that if he returns to coaching, it will be with a different organization.
Since Payton has been the head coach, he has a 152-89 regular-season record and a 9-8 postseason record. Payton led the Saints to their first Super Bowl championship in 2009, defeating the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning, 31-17. Last season, the Saints finished 9-8 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened, a coach saying he will retire then coming back. After five years with the Cardinals, Bruce Arians retired after the 2017 season, only to return in 2019 to coach the Buccaneers. Payton is under contract through the 2024 season, and Payton is one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL.
Payton was contacted by at least one TV network regarding working in broadcasting before the end of the 2021 season, according to insiders, and that looks to be an option as well. If another team wanted Payton, they’d have to pay New Orleans compensation. But that’s a topic for next year’s offseason if that’s the case. Tony Romo 2.0?
What About The Saints?
Dennis Allen has a lot of years in this league, dating all the way back to 2002 with the Atlanta Falcons. Allen does have head coaching experience with the Oakland Raiders.
Pete Carmichael has been in the NFL since 2000 with the Cleveland Browns. Carmichael did get some interviews to be a head coach in years past, talking with the Packers and the Jets in 2019. Lions DC Aaron Glenn is set up for an interview for the Saints’ HC job as well. The former assistant head coach of the Saints, Dan Campbell, stole him away when Campbell got hired by the Detroit Lions.
One question remains: do the Saints just push the button on a rebuild or do they try to push their way to go for a Super Bowl? The Saints are expected to be $74 million over the cap, the most of any team in the NFL, and have already lost their quarterback and head coach in back-to-back off-seasons.
A truly interesting offseason looms for the New Orleans Saints.
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