NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton will retire, according to NewOrleans.Football writer Nick Underhill.
The team has a 3 p.m. press conference scheduled.
There has been widespread speculation as to whether Payton would return to the Saints. WWL-TV Sports’ Doug Mouton said Payton wanted time away after a tough 2021 season that saw him play his first season without future NFL Hall-Of-Fame quarterback Drew Brees and several team injuries that caused the Saints to play at a weakened status for most games.
“This is a franchise-altering day for the Saints,” Underhill told WWL-TV.
FOX NFL Sunday’s Jay Glazer said Payton was wrestling with stepping away for weeks. Glazer said Payton spoke with team owner Gayle Benson who asked him to take some time off and think about the decision.
“He’s gone up and down about it for a while too but the theme I got more than not is that he needs a break,” Glazer wrote.
Speculation on who will replace Payton will center on defensive coordinator Dennis Allen who manned the sideline when Payton was out for a game due to COVID-19 protocols. Allen is largely credited with the team’s defensive surge in recent seasons.
After the news broke, some Saints players took to social media to react.
“Didn Netflix just make a movie bout our saints Hc yr off? Sheesh thought that was a one time deal… right,” defensive end Cameron Jordan wrote on Twitter.
Safety Chauncey "C. J." Gardner-Johnson didn’t write any words, choosing instead to react to the news with a GIF image of a shocked Kevin Hart meme.