Thursday, April 18

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton retires after 16 years with the franchise

METAIRIE, La. – Sean Payton announced his decision to retire on Tuesday, 16 years after being hired as coach of the New Orleans Saints, although he repeatedly emphasized that “retirement is not the right word.”

Payton, 58, said he doesn’t plan to coach another team in 2022, adding: “My heart isn’t there right now.” And given that he has three years left on his contract, the Saints would have to agree to trade compensation if he wanted to coach another team.

However, Payton did not rule out training again in the future. And he said that he is interested in pursuing a TV analyst job, though he insisted that neither he nor his agent Don Yee have spoken to any media outlets yet.

“I don’t know what’s next, and it feels good,” Payton said during an emotional 90-minute news conference at the team’s practice facility. “But, man, I felt like it was time… But not with any regrets. There’s some emotion, like, ‘Okay, what’s next?'”

Payton explained that he had been considering this game all the way back to training camp before confirming how he felt over the past two weeks. He said owner Gayle Benson, general manager Mickey Loomis and team president Dennis Lauscha tried to talk him out of it. And he thanked Benson for encouraging him to go on vacation for the last two weeks before making a final decision.

“It really is a bittersweet day. I feel like he deserves it,” said Benson, who said the team will conduct a thorough search for Payton’s replacement both inside and outside the building. “I think we’ll do a great job of picking someone else who can guide us the way Sean did.”

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The Saints are now the ninth team in the NFL with a head coaching vacancy. Defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. are two obvious candidates for a possible promotion, considering the Saints just posted their fifth straight winning season and aren’t necessarily looking for a review.

Payton mentioned Allen by name while explaining that he and the Saints never discussed any type of deal where he could return after a one-year hiatus.

“To be fair to Dennis, who is a great candidate in the building, or any other coach who would possibly get hired, there are no half measures in this game,” said Payton, who also emphasized that he believes the team is still on the board. right direction even though quarterback Drew Brees retired a year ago and the injury-plagued 2021 team missed the playoffs for the first time in five years with a 9-8 record.

“We talk all the time about leaving a better place than when you arrived,” he said. “And it’s not over [here].”

Payton admitted that he searched the Internet Monday night for tips on how to avoid crying during a news conference. He began by individually singling out Benson, Loomis, and Lauscha, calling Loomis “one of my best friends.” And he presented Benson with a piece of king cake, a traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras dessert, saying it was his take on TV character Ted Lasso’s cookie tradition.

Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan and Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards were among the many who greeted Payton on social media Tuesday:

Payton made his mark as the winningest coach in Saints history and one of the NFL’s all-time great offensive minds. The Saints signed Brees two months after Payton was hired in 2006, and led New Orleans to the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history in 2009.

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Payton is tied for 21st in NFL history with 152 career wins, according to data from Pro Football Reference. His career record is 152-89 (.631 winning percentage), not including his season-long suspension in 2012. Payton is 9-8 in the postseason.

According to Elias Sports Bureau research, Payton and the Saints rank first in NFL history in average points scored (27.6 per game) and yards gained (391.2 per game) among all coaching combinations. and teams with at least five seasons together.

Although the Saints narrowly missed out on the playoffs in 2021 (Payton joked that they’re rooting for the Los Angeles Rams now since they couldn’t help them with a Week 18 win over the San Francisco 49ers), the season still represented one of the most Payton’s awesome. he coaching works in many ways. The Saints had to overcome Brees’ retirement, an unexpected salary-cap drop, a month-long hurricane evacuation to Dallas and an NFL-record 58 starters used due to a barrage of serious injuries and COVID-19 issues.

However, Payton said the challenging season was not the reason for his departure. He joked that while many people told him he looked “exhausted” this season, he blamed being too out of shape and bad angles in his Zoom press conferences.

Payton began his NFL career as a quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1997 to 1998 before becoming a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator with the New York Giants from 1999 to 2002 and then assistant head coach/ passing game coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2005.

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Payton’s longevity in New Orleans is a rarity in today’s NFL. Only Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots has been with his team longer. Additionally, Payton had four 11-plus win seasons in his second decade with the Saints. Only three other coaches have done that in the Super Bowl era: Belichick (10), Tom Landry (eight), Don Shula (six).

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