Saints coach Sean Payton may not return to the team in 2022.
According to a report by NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, sources close to the 16-year-old head coach have yet to commit to returning to New Orleans next season, even though he has three years left on his contract worth $45. millions. Nor has he communicated to the team that he will return.
According to NFL.comPayton likely won’t retire permanently, though his tenure as Saints coach is likely to end.
Payton is coming off a 9-8 campaign after four straight seasons of at least 11 wins and a berth in the NFC divisional round. The 2021 campaign was the first since 2016 in which the Saints did not win double-digit games or make the playoffs (they went 7-9 in three straight seasons from 2014-16).
Sporting News takes a look at why Payton might walk away from the NFL in 2022 and the effect it could have on the Saints and the rest of his coaching career.
Is Sean Payton leaving the Saints?
Nothing is set in stone as of now: NFL.com only cites sources who say Payton, who has been on vacation for more than a week, has not informed them or the team of his intentions for the 2022 season. The report also states that the coach “has gone dark” on several people close to him.
If Payton leaves the Saints in 2022, sources told NFL.com, it would not be to coach another team. Instead, it would be a “mini-retirement,” a reloading year for the coach, who has managed the Saints every season since 2006 (save for 2012, when he was suspended for the entire year as a result of his involvement in the 2009 payout scandal). New Orleans). ).
That said, retiring from the team in 2022 would likely close the door on his return to the franchise. If Payton were to coach again in 2023, it would almost certainly be with another team.
Why is Sean Payton considering leaving?
According to NFL.com, the massive influx of injuries the Saints suffered in 2021, which required the use of four quarterbacks in Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian and rookie Ian Books, was “intent and extremely demanding” for Payton. .
In fact, the Saints’ passing offense collapsed in the first year without Drew Brees; he was ranked 32nd nationally with 187.4 yards per game. The Saints’ rushing offense was noticeably better (ranking 15th in the league with 117.1 yards per game), but still saw a drastic drop from the previous year’s production, in which they ranked sixth in the league with 141.6 yards per game.
As NFL.com noted, taking the 2022 season off would not spell the end of Payton’s coaching career, per se. Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians retired from the Cardinals in 2017 before taking over at Tampa Bay in 2019. However, that would almost certainly mean the end of his tenure in New Orleans, where he is the winningest coach. all-time in the franchise with a mark of 152. -89.
He also noted that, prior to the end of the 2021 season, Payton was approached by “at least one” television network.
Who would replace Sean Payton with the Saints?
NFL.com reports that Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen would be a top candidate to replace Payton as head coach. Allen, who has served as defensive coordinator under Payton since 2015 and who has a head coaching interview with the Bears, has put up one of the best statistical drives in the league in 2021.
The Saints’ defense ranks seventh nationally in total defense (318.2 yards per game); 14th in pass defense (224.8 ypg); fourth in quick defense (93.5 ypg); and fourth in scoring defense (19.7 points per game). He’s also tied for 10th in steals (25), helping the Saints rank tied for eighth in turnover margin (plus seven). He also pitched just the third career shutout for Tom Brady, and the first since 2006, in a 9-0 win over the Buccaneers.
That said, NFL.com reports that the Saints would conduct a full coaching search to ensure they have the best coach to replace Payton.