Rumors have continued to swirl around the New Orleans Saints this offseason, so why not add one more to the mix: Sean Payton could come back to coach in 2022.
In the world of hypotheticals, anything could happen. Drew Brees could technically come back to play quarterback, which he hinted at on Twitter a few weeks.
A comeback doesn’t appear to be in the cards for the aging Brees (this is Jameis Winston’s team now), but former Saints’ coach Sean Payton’s chapter in the NFL isn’t quite over.
Payton stepped down as head coach in January, taking a temporary hiatus from coaching to pursue a career in media.
The long-time NOLA coach has gone on record to say he doesn’t plan on coaching in 2022 because “that’s not where [his] heart is right now,” but as we stated earlier, anything can happen.
Sports Illustrated’s Connor Orr predicted that Payton wouldn’t last a full season in the booth and would jump back into coaching by the end of 2022:
"In years when the carousel contains prominent candidates, most end-of-season firings get pushed up to around Thanksgiving—or sooner. Courting Payton is going to take an epic and borderline public overture long before the NFL’s legitimate hiring window begins. This one will not abide by the rules. By the time we sit down to argue with our relatives about the midterm elections, we’ll know where Payton is headed."
New Orleans Saints could see the return of Sean Payton as soon as 2022
Payton has already accepted a job to work in studio with Fox through 2022, likely joining the Fox NFL Sunday crew with Jimmy Johnson.
If Payton does decided to return to the NFL, he remains under contract with the Saints for three more years. Another NFL team could try to trade for him, which would require substantial trade capital including at least one or two first-round picks.
This offseason, Payton has already been linked to the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and Carolina Panthers, but everything so far has been pure hearsay.
The Saints can stomach seeing Payton on TV for the next year, but seeing him back on the field wearing colors that aren’t black and gold? That’ll be a strange sight to behold.
In any case, New Orleans has more pressing issues to worry about than potentially facing a former coach in 2022. This season offers unbridled potential in the returns of Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas along with the offensive additions of Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry — if the defense can stay elite as always, the Saints have a real chance to contend for the Super Bowl.
That may be a slightly over-optimistic sentiment, but so is expecting Payton to return to the helm of the Saints franchise.