After several days of deliberation and speculation, Sean Payton has decided to remain in New Orleans as the Saints’ head coach, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Payton confirmed today at an afternoon press conference that he’s not going anywhere, adding that he hopes to spend the rest of his career with the team.
Despite the fact that he was the only possible candidate who already held a head coaching position, Payton’s name has been mentioned as frequently as anyone’s this week, as rumors swirled about the possibility of him leaving New Orleans for one of the six teams with a head coaching vacancy. Although he wasn’t linked to every open job, Payton was viewed as a viable candidate for the 49ers’ and Giants’ jobs, among others.
After leading the Saints to five playoff berths and a Super Bowl in his first seven seasons with the franchise – not counting the 2012 campaign, during which he served a year-long suspension – Payton has seen his team finish with a 7-9 record in back-to-back seasons.
With Drew Brees possibly entering the final year of his contract and the team potentially entering a full-fledged rebuild, there seemed to be a good chance that Payton or Brees, or both, would leave New Orleans this winter. But Payton is staying put, and said today that it’s “a good assumption” that Brees will be his quarterback in 2016 (Twitter link).
Of course, for Payton to leave the Saints, the club would have had to let him out of his contract, which has two years remaining on it. Already one of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, Payton would’ve likely wanted a raise and an extension if he joined another club, and any deal would’ve required his new team to part ways with some sort of compensation for the Saints, likely in the form of a high draft pick.
While Payton and the Saints are unlikely to confirm whether or not they explored the possibility of the head coach’s departure, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News (Twitter link) hears that multiple teams spoke to New Orleans about that possibility, with Payton’s salary demands acting as a major roadblock.
A report earlier this week indicated that the Colts expressed some interest in Payton prior to extending Chuck Pagano, but Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com tweets that the trade market for Payton was fairly quiet, with the exception of perhaps the 49ers. For now then, despite all the rumors, Payton’s contract and his status in New Orleans remain unchanged, according to La Canfora (Twitter link).
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