For many weeks, there have been rumors swirling the internet that New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton could not be returning to the team. On Tuesday, the NFL world was shocked when NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport sent out a tweet confirming that Payton informed the Saints that he would be “stepping away.”
Saints fans are likely devastated after an already troubling 9-8 season. Payton is a beloved figure in New Orleans. The coach has been with the team since 2006. He helped the Saints get to three NFC Championship games and win the franchise’s first Super Bowl back in 2009. Payton is currently the winningest coach in Saints history. To see someone else on the sideline next year will be very strange. But, what does “stepping away” mean?
Is he retiring? Is he going to coach another team? Will he take a year off and then return? There have also been several rumors that Payton has been asked to join the FOX Sports broadcasting team to replace Dallas Cowboys legend Troy Aikman. Amazon is currently trying to poach Aikman for its new exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football.
Aikman is one of the world’s most beloved broadcasters, and he certainly leaves big shoes to fill. But if FOX could score a big name like Payton, it would absolutely help viewership.
Could Jerry Jones replace Cowboys’ Mike McCarthy with Sean Payton?
Although the reports claim that Payton is heading to retirement rather than taking another coaching job, you have to imagine Jerry Jones is jumping up and down at this news. Before settling in with New Orleans, Payton was an assistant head coach and quarterback coach with the Cowboys from 2003-2005. He worked under Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells.
Ever since then, Jones seems to be enamored with Payton. There were even rumors throughout the last several years that the Dallas GM wanted to try and steal Payton from the Saints in the past. With many questions up in the air about Mike McCarthy after the Cowboys’ disappointing playoff loss to the 49ers, you have to imagine that Jones is running to the phone to try and make this happen.
Many said that replacing McCarthy after two years was too much of a risk considering two key coordinators could also be on the way out. But when you have an opportunity to replace your head coach with a man of Payton’s caliber, the story changes.
Jones has repeatedly expressed his frustration with the Wild Card game outcome but hasn’t given the media much information. When asked about his coaching staff, he told 105.3 The Fan that he has “a lot of things to think about with these coaches” and didn’t say much more.
This shocking news has thrown the league for a bit of a loop. It will be very interesting to see where Payton lands next season. He could be on his couch, in the broadcast booth, or maybe even on the Cowboys sideline.