Sean Payton resigns as New Orleans Saints’ head coach after 16 seasons

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton speaks after a game against the Carolina Panthers on Nov. 24, 2019, in New Orleans. Payton, whose 15-year tenure with the club included its only Super Bowl championship and also a one-season suspension stemming from the NFL's bounty investigation, intends to retire from coaching. A person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the 58-year-old Payton was stepping down. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the move was not going to be announced until a media availability later in the day. (AP file photo)

NEW ORLEANS — Before Sean Payton took his first head coaching job in New Orleans in 2006, the Saints had a grand total of one playoff victory since their founding in 1967.

The standard will be considerably higher for the next head coach in the Big Easy.

Payton, whose 16 years with the club included its only Super Bowl championship and also a one-season suspension stemming from the NFL’s bounty investigation, is leaving coaching — for now.

Payton informed the team on Tuesday that he is leaving his first and only NFL head coaching job with a 152-89 regular-season record — and nine playoff appearances — in 15 seasons. The 2009 Saints won the NFL title.

“I don’t like the word retirement,” Payton said Tuesday afternoon at an announcement attended by owner Gayle Benson, top management and assistant coaches. “I still have a vision for doing things in football. And I’ll be honest with you, that might be coaching again at some point. I don’t think it’s this year, I think maybe in the future. That’s not where my heart is right now.”

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton walks on the field before a game against the Carolina Panthers in New Orleans on Jan. 2. (AP photo)

Payton is under contract with the Saints for three more seasons, and if he’s hired by another NFL team before then, his new team would have to provide compensation to New Orleans.

The Saints made the relatively risky decision to hire Payton as a rookie head coach in their first season back in New Orleans after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina for the 2005 season, when they went 3-13 under Jim Haslett.

Payton oversaw an immediate turnaround. The Saints won the NFC South, captured the second playoff seed, and advanced to their first NFC title game by beating Philadelphia in a rebuilt Superdome — the site of widespread damage and suffering of stranded evacuees after Katrina flooded 80% of New Orleans.

Since then, Payton coached the Saints to the playoffs eight more times.

New Orleans narrowly missed the playoffs this season, going 9-8 in its first campaign since the retirement of Drew Brees. Payton had lured the quarterback to New Orleans as a free agent in 2006.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today