During his tenure, Payton led the Saints to victory in Super Bowl XLIV, seven NFC South titles and nine playoff appearances.
With Payton out of the Big Easy, it opens the door for a possible reunion with the Dallas Cowboys, who had Payton on staff as the quarterbacks coach from 2003-05.
There would be myriad hoops to jump through here, of course.
The first problem? In a Tuesday presser announcing the move, Payton indicated that he truly is leaving coaching - at least for a time.
Payton said, “I don’t like the word ‘retirement.”
So what’s next? “That could be coaching again in the future,” he added, “but that’s not where my heart is at all right now”
That probably leaves Dallas’ “heart” - broken as it is - not parting ways with coach Mike McCarthy, who is just beginning his third season (with owner Jerry Jones upset with how Year 2 ended.)
Payton even addressed the speculation.
“There are going to be ... I can’t control… I felt like 10 years went by and we talked about the other team for a lot. And I get it, I understand it,” Payton said. “But, no, my plans are not to be coaching in 2022. And that’s just how I feel.”
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Dallas would’ve have to negotiate with Payton to keep him from taking a TV job. (Payton insisted he hasn’t spoken with networks.!
Dallas would have had to - we assume - create compensation for the Saints, who still have Payton under contract for a number of years.
Really, one question is: Is Payton "retiring'' (as some media outlets phrase it) or "stepping back'' (which can be another thing entirely)?
“Sean changes his mind every two seconds,” FOX Sports insider Jay Glazer said. “We talk about it a lot. It’s why I haven’t reported anything because he changes his mind like every two minutes.”
Glazer said the past two seasons have taken a toll on Payton due to the challenges of COVID-19. And there is no doubt that has presented the NFL with a great deal of obstacles.
But perhaps a reunion in Dallas could be the next challenge Payton is looking to take on. … someday.
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