New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton has decided to step away from the franchise, earlier this Tuesday. Payton made it clear several times that “retriment is not the right word.”
The 58-year-old head coach explains he does not want to coach any other teams in 2022, adding, “That’s not where my heart is right now.” Payton remains with three years remaining on his contract, meaning that the Saints would have to agree to compensate if he decided to coach for another team. On the contrary, Payton never ruled out a return to couching down the line. He mentions that he may consider an analyst job on television.
“I don’t know what’s next — and it kind of feels good,” Payton said during an emotional 90-minute news conference. “But, man, I felt like it was time. … But not with any regret. There’s some excitement, like, ‘All right, what’s next?'”
Payton discussed his consideration of departing from the franchise back in training camp. Several of the Saints management and ownership attempted to speak him out of his decision. However, it had zero effect on the outcome. Payton even thanked Saints owner Gayle Benson for encouraging him to go on vacation for the past couple of weeks before making his final decision.
“It really is a bittersweet day. I feel like he deserves this,” said Benson, who said the team will conduct a thorough search for Payton’s replacement both inside and outside the building. “I think we’re gonna do a great job in choosing another person that’s going to be able to lead us the way that Sean did.”
Payton’s thoughts and impact on the New Orleans Saints
The Saints have joined a group of NFL teams that now have vacancies for head coach positions. The two standouts for possible promotion have to be the offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator for the Saints. Payton mentions defensive coordinator Dennis Allen while explaining no further discussions were had about returning after the one-year hiatus.
“In fairness to Dennis, who’s a great candidate in the building, or any other coach that possibly would be hired, there’s no half-in in this game,” said Payton, who also stressed that he thinks the team is still pointed in the right direction.” We talk all the time about leaving a place better than when you got there, to begin with,” he said. “And it’s not finished”.
Payton has always expressed his sense of humor while coaching for the Saints. During the press conference, he admits to searching the Internet for tips on how to avoid crying during a news conference.
That’s my HC! At the end of the day if Seans stepping away he has a master plan. Nothing but love for you Sean if this is it for you as my Hc then I thank you for drafting me, building phenomenal teams like ‘11 ‘18-21 first off the top of my head. 11 yrs my coach, forever RESPECT https://t.co/LXE2ubFjnN
— cameron jordan (@camjordan94) January 25, 2022
You became our coach after the biggest natural disaster in U.S. history hit our state
You forever changed the culture of our organization, bringing us to unbelievable heights
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) January 25, 2022
Payton’s legacy is cemented
Payton made his mark in Saints history and is one of the NFL’s greatest offensive coaches of all time. The Saints signed Brees shortly after Payton was hired in 2006. He then led the Saints to the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history in 2009. He’s tied for the 21st in NFL history with 152 career victories, per ESPN. Although Payton is 9-8 in the postseason, he ranks first in the NFL history in average points scored and yards gained per game among all other coaches.
The Saints just missed the playoffs due to the Los Angeles Rams not defeating the San Franciso 49ers. However, this season represented how great of a coach Payton was. He found ways to win and come up just a game short without his newly retired quarterback Drew Brees. Not to mention, a load of injuries and COVID-19 issues the team dealt with this past year.
Payton assured everyone that his departure has no relations with this past year. Payton’s longevity in New Orleans is a rarity throughout the league. New England Patriots Bill Belichick is the only coach who’s been on his team longer. Payton also had four seasons of 11 or more wins in his second decade with the Saints.