NEW ORLEANS, La. (KLFY) – Saints head coach Sean Payton is leaving the team, according to New Orleans Football Writer Nick Underhill and Ian Rappoport of the NFL Network.
There has been recent talk that Payton may not be returning to the Saints. He confirmed it in a press conference at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25. He said he doesn’t have any current plans for what’s next.
Payton joined the Saints in 2006, more than 15 years ago. He coached the team for 15 seasons. Reports show he still had 3 years remaining on his contract, according to WGNO.
Payton spoke on his decision to leave in an emotional, bittersweet press conference Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s not often that a coach has the opportunity to leave how they want,” Payton said, “and it’s not something I had thought about over the years.”
The longtime Saints coach said he doesn’t know what’s next.
“I don’t like the word retirement,” Payton said in reference to his future. “I still have a vision for doing things in football, and I’ll be honest, it may be coaching again one day, but that’s not where my heart is right now at all.”
He thanked the City of New Orleans and Saints fans for their loyalty and support, especially in the season post-Hurricane Katrina, saying that was one of the most important seasons he coached. He also thanked the players that he got to coach during his time.
“I don’t know what’s next and it feels good,” Payton said. “Not many get to choose their terms [of leaving coaching]. I looked at it as an opportunity to spend more time with my family. I felt like it was the right thing.”
Payton said his mother taught him to leave things better than how he found them, and he hopes that’s what he did with the Saints.