Sean Payton's time as head coach of the New Orleans Saints might soon be coming to an end. According to multiple reports, the 58-year-old's status for the 2022 season remains unclear, and team owner Gayle Benson confirmed recent rumors on Monday by telling reporters, "I don't think any of us know," in regard to Payton's future plans.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported on Sunday that if Payton decides to step away from the franchise -- he still has three years left on a $45 million contract -- it wouldn't be a permanent retirement. 2022 would serve as a year to recharge, mentally and physically, after a grueling 2021 campaign. However, his absence would most likely mark the end to him coaching in New Orleans.
"I talk to Sean a lot, and he changes his mind every two seconds. That's why I don't report anything on it -- there's a lot that's been going through his mind," NFL insider Jay Glazer explained to the Maggie and Perloff show on Monday. "Two weeks ago, I did the coaching carousel. And I actually said on FOX that you could have a guy who chooses to step away. These last two years, with COVID, have just taken a toll on a lot of these guys.
"That's who I was talking about. Could step away, I didn't say 'will.' Because, we've talked a lot, and he's changed his mind a lot. There's certain parts that have exhausted him. Does he want to be done, does he want to do TV, does he want to go somewhere else and someone trades for him? I think it was a very, every emotional year for him... I do know it took a massive toll on him."
Payton's season with the Saints was anything but stress-free. In August, they were displaced by Hurricane Ida for the better part of a month, and forced to play their first home game on a neutral field. In Week 8, starting quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury, and due to a myriad of ailments and COVID headaches, four different quarterbacks saw playing time throughout the campaign. Somehow, New Orleans nearly made the playoffs with a 9-8 record.
In 15 seasons at the helm, Payton has amassed a record of 152-89, and he's led the Saints to nine playoff appearances, three NFC championship games, and one Super Bowl title. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Payton and the team rank first in NFL history in both points scored (27.6 per game) and yards gained (391.2 per game) among all coach-team combinations with at least five seasons together.
The entire NFL conversation between Glazer and Maggie and Perloff can be accessed in the audio player above.