There have been rumors for many weeks that New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton would not be returning to the club. The NFL world was stunned when NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport sent a tweet to confirm that Payton had informed the Saints he was “stepping aside.”
Saints fans will likely be devastated by the 9-8 season. New Orleans is familiar with Payton. Since 2006, Payton has been the coach of the Saints. The coach helped the Saints win three NFC Championship games, and the first Super Bowl in franchise history. He is the Saints’ winningest coach. It will be very unusual to see another coach on the sidelines next year. What does it mean to “step away”?
Is he going to retire? Is he going on to coach another team or retire? He will likely take a year off to return. Many rumors have suggested that Payton was asked to join FOX Sports’ broadcasting team to replace Dallas Cowboys legend Troy Aikman. Amazon is trying to recruit Aikman to its exclusive Thursday Night Football rights.
Aikman is a beloved broadcaster around the globe and will be a big loss. If FOX could find a big name like Payton to help their viewership, that would be a huge boost.
Although Payton may be retiring rather than accepting another coaching position, it is hard to imagine Jerry Jones jumping at the news. Payton worked as an assistant coach and quarterback coach for the Cowboys between 2003-2005 before settling down in New Orleans. He was coached by Bill Parcells, a Hall of Fame coach.
Jones has been infatuated with Payton since that time. There was even a rumor that Jones wanted to steal Payton from Saints in the past. There are many questions about Mike McCarthy , the Cowboys’ shocking playoff loss to 49ers. You can imagine Jones running to the phone to make this happen.
Many felt that McCarthy’s replacement after two years was too risky considering that two other key coordinators may also be leaving. The story can change when your head coach is replaced by a man of Payton’s calibre.
Jones expressed frustration over the Wild Card game’s outcome repeatedly, but has not provided much detail to the media. Jones told 105.3 The Fan about his coaching staff but didn’t give much else.
This news has caused a stir in the league. It will be interesting to see where Payton ends up next season. He could be sitting on his couch, in a broadcast booth, or even on the Cowboys sideline.