Sean Payton shocked the NFL world on Tuesday when he decided to retire after 15 seasons as the Saints’ coach. He won a Super Bowl with New Orleans and presided over the team’s most successful era with Drew Brees at quarterback.
Now, Payton is gone, but other fan bases in the NFL are wondering how long he could remain on the sidelines. And if he does return to coaching, would he be interested in the Cowboys job if it were available? Or the Bears start?
Meanwhile, at least one television network is eyeing Payton for a potential lead role in their broadcast booth. So if you choose not to go back to the sidelines, you’ll have options there too.
So what’s next for Sean Payton? Here’s a breakdown of what the former Saints coach could do with his time in New Orleans now over.
RIVERA: Why Sean Payton is retiring, explained
Will Sean Payton be training in 2022?
It doesn’t look like Payton will coach in 2022. NFL.com reported that Payton would take 2022 off if he left the Saints and use it as a “mini-retirement.”
That lines up with what was reported by Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, who is close to Payton. Payton just “needs a break.”
Sean Payton was struggling with taking a year or two or months away from retirement. I told Mrs. B a couple of weeks ago and she asked her to take some time off and think about it. He’s also been up and down for a while, but the thing I have the most that he doesn’t is that he needs a break.
— Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) January 25, 2022
That said, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports that retirement is a bit of a misnomer for what’s going on with Payton. He is looking to “recharge” and could return to training in the future.
Sean Payton isn’t necessarily retiring, according to a source. He needs time off to recharge and the 58-year-old could return to training in the future. There have been numerous times teams have inquired about his availability, including while he was with the Saints.
—Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) January 25, 2022
However, that didn’t stop teams from expressing interest in Payton. ESPN’s Dianna Russini reports that even before Payton’s announcement, teams considered making a move to get him.
There were teams that knew Sean Payton was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next and possibly wanted to leave New Orleans. According to multiple conversations with league sources, there were teams exploring ways to make a move and sign the 58-year-old.
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) January 25, 2022
So what is the takeaway here? Payton will have coaching opportunities when he returns to the NFL. That’s not a surprise, given that he posted a career record of 152-89 with the Saints and never posted a season worse than a 7-9 in New Orleans.
That said, teams that are hiring coaches right now, like the Bears and Dolphins, probably shouldn’t be too excited about Payton being released. He doesn’t seem likely to take another coaching job right now, so unless both teams are looking for another new head coach next year, which would be less than ideal given both franchises looking to develop young quarterbacks, he’d probably they will do it. not landing Payton.
However, fans of teams that have a coach in the hot seat at the moment, like the Cowboys and Panthers, might be a little excited about Payton. If things go south in 2022 and Mike McCarthy and Matt Rhule are sent packing, each team could make an offer for Payton. The Cowboys may be the most logical landing place considering Payton was Dallas’ assistant head coach under Bill Parcells from 2003 to 2005 before taking over from the Saints.
That possibility should be enough to get Cowboys fans excited, but it should also temper expectations. Why? First of all, Payton’s return isn’t a foregone conclusion. Second, even if he does return, there are some complicating factors with his contract that could influence which teams are willing to pursue him in 2023.
Sean Payton contract details
Payton signed a contract with the Saints in 2019 that made him one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL. It was a five-year pact that paid him approximately $9 million annually. He made it through just two of those seasons before opting to walk away.
However, Payton will remain under contract for the next three years despite leaving. As such, if he wants to return to the NFL in 2023, the Saints will continue to own his rights for at least another season.
What does that mean? A team would have to compensate the Saints to sign Payton, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Sean Payton has a contract until 2024 with the #Saints. If another team wanted to get hold of him, they would have to compensate New Orleans. But that’s a conversation for the upcoming offseason. https://t.co/7v8gr8GW0c
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 25, 2022
That may not necessarily be a deal breaker for a team looking to sign Payton, but it would certainly complicate matters. NFL teams don’t like to give up draft capital even for proven resources. However, teams have traded more high-priced assets in recent offseasons, so perhaps if a team sees Payton as a differentiating factor, it could go after him.
Payton’s contract won’t end until after the 2024 season, so this issue will be there if any team wants to sign Payton for the next three years.
Will Sean Payton replace Troy Aikman on Fox?
Of course, that’s assuming Payton wants to go back to training. It may only need a brief recharge, as some reports have suggested, but if you land in the TV industry, you may not want to go back to the sidelines.
Payton is expected to have potential opportunities on the air when he’s done training. receiving sports reports that Fox is expected to lobby for him if he doesn’t retain Troy Aikman.
Aikman, who is in the final year of his contract with Fox, is rumored to be a target of Amazon, which has the rights to the “Thursday Night Football” games starting next year. If he does leave, Fox is expected to have an interest in signing Payton as a replacement and potential partner for Joe Buck.
“[Fox] he has to go big if they need to replace Troy,” Eric Weinberger, a former Fox Sports senior producer, told Front Office Sports.
Most notably, Fox offered Payton a job during the 2012 NFL season, when he was suspended for the entire year as part of the Bountygate scandal. So it’s no surprise that the network is after him with his coaching career over for the time being.