- The Washington Times
Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Add another coaching vacancy to the list. 

And it’s a big one.

Sean Payton informed the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday that he‘s stepping down as head coach — a shocking move that ends Payton‘s 15-year tenure with the team. Rumors about Payton‘s future had been stirring in recent days, with Saints owner Gayle Benson admitting she didn’t know if Payton would stay.

Now, she has her answer. Payton resigned after a challenging 9-8 season in which New Orleans failed to make the playoffs. It was Payton‘s first season without quarterback Drew Brees, who retired in the offseason. Payton signed Brees as a free agent in 2006 and the quarterback broke every significant franchise passing record.

“I don’t like the word retirement,” Payton said. “I still have a vision for doing things in football. And I’ll be honest with you, that might be coaching again at some point. I don’t think it’s this year, I think maybe in the future. That’s not where my heart is right now.”

In 2021, the Saints rotated through a number of quarterbacks with starter Jameis Winston suffering a season-ending torn ACL. The team also used Trevor Siemian, Ian Book and Taysom Hill — a trio that struggled to move the ball, but still were able to help the Saints compete. 

In 15 seasons, Payton went 152-89 — making the playoffs nine times and winning the Super Bowl against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts to cap the 2009 season. His 152 career victories rank 21st in NFL history.

Payton missed the 2012 season after the NFL suspended him after the league discovered the team had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. Payton was reinstated in 2013.

He walks away at 58 years old, though it remains to be seen whether this will be a permanent retirement or a temporary one . 

“I don’t know what’s next,” Payton said. “Look, I read the reports and I understand. I’ve not spoken to anyone from a media outlet relative to doing television, or radio. Maybe that opportunity arises. But every time I read something that says he’s in line for this job, I’ll call my agent Don (Yee) and I’ll say ‘Don did you hear something because I’ve not heard anything?’ That’s OK. I think I’d like to do that. I think I’d be pretty good at it.”

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.