New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton confirms resignation: ‘Not where my heart is right now’

In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, head coach Sean Payton announced he is stepping away from the New Orleans Saints.

Update 4:55 p.m. EST Jan. 25: Although Payton has been with the franchise for 16 years, his record includes only 15 seasons as head coach because he was suspended in 2012 as a result of the league’s bounty investigation, ESPN reported.

Should Payton return to coaching, the Saints would maintain his rights because he still has three years remaining on his latest extension negotiated in 2019, the sports news network reported.

It was not immediately clear if either Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen or offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. are considered frontrunners to replace the longtime coach, or if the franchise will focus recruitment efforts outside the organization.

With a 9-8 record in 2021, the Saints missed the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, ESPN reported.

Update 4:41 p.m. EST Jan. 25: Payton, who said the move does not necessarily signal his retirement, thanked Saints owner Gayle Benson for encouraging him to spend time away from the team while he mulled Tuesday’s announcement “because it is a big decision that affects a lot of people.”

“I don’t like the word retirement,” he said, adding, “I still have a vision for doing things in football. I’ll be honest with you, that might be coaching,” but it’s “not where my heart is right now.”

Update 4:20 p.m. EST Jan. 25: “Honestly, as I sit here today... I don’t know what’s next,” Payton said, dispelling rumors that he has been courted by sports networks.

“I think I’d like to do that. I think I’d be pretty good at it,” he said, noting he has not “spoken to anyone relative to doing television or radio.”

Original report: While Payton didn’t say what he planned to do next, sources told ESPN that television networks have shown interest in hiring him.

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Payton has been with the Saints for 16 years, joining the team at the franchise’s lowest point, after Hurricane Katrina and the 2005 season which ended 3-13 overall, WDSU reported.

Payton leaves the Saints with an overall regular-season record of 152-89 and a postseason record of 9-8, which includes a Super Bowl victory and the 2006 AP Coach of the Year award, NFL.com reported. He is the winningest coach in the team’s history, ESPN reported.

“I want to build a consistent winner and I’m excited about being the coach of the Saints, I’m not sure I need to be the king of Mardi Gras, but I’m excited to be here,” Payton said in 2006, WDSU reported.