Sean Payton is working for Fox Sports this offseason after stepping down from his coaching job with the New Orleans Saints in January, but says he’s interested in returning as an NFL head coach in 2023 “under the right circumstances.”
“If the right situation presents itself, I would certainly be interested,” Payton said said on the NewOrleans.Football podcast, which was released on Wednesday. “There’s no utopia when it comes to teams, but if I feel it’s the right situation, I’ll be interested in it. All told, it could come in a year, it could come. In two years.”
Asked what he looks for in a coaching prospect, Payton said the right ownership and front office are important.
“The most important element is functional ownership [and] The front office … is missing a few teams, and those teams, no matter what happens, can win on Sunday, but have trouble winning long term,” he said. “The opportunity to win consistently and the right culture and willingness to build on everything.”
Payton will have two more seasons left on his Saints contract after the 2022 season, meaning his new team would have to compensate the Saints if he were to take an NFL coaching job in 2023.
The Miami Dolphins were fined by the NFL in August for having “impermissible communications” with agent Dan Yee about Payton becoming the team’s head coach in January. The NFL found that the Dolphins “did not receive consent” from the Saints to begin negotiations that took place before he left his job with New Orleans. The Dolphins eventually hired Mike McDaniel as their head coach.
Payton, 58, left his job with the Saints in January after 16 seasons with the franchise. At his news conference in January to discuss his decision to leave the Saints, he didn’t rule out a future return to coaching, but focused on finding a television job as an NFL analyst.
He eventually found that job at Fox Sports, and said on the podcast that he’s “really enjoying” his role at the network. But that doesn’t mean he hasn’t missed practice, and he said the Saints’ Week 2 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the first time this season he wants to be sidelined again.
“I got my version of FOMO last weekend against Tampa [fear of missing out]I was jealous of everyone there, including the random Bruce Arians on the side,” he said.
Arians, who stepped down as Buccaneers head coach before the season to become a senior assistant to general manager Jason Leach, was on the sidelines for Sunday’s game and received a warning from the NFL for his behavior.
Payton said working in television allows him to recharge his batteries, as he was suspended for one season by the NFL in 2012 as a result of the league’s bounty investigation.
“Hopefully, I’m sure it does the same thing,” Payton said.
Payton’s record with the Saints was 152-89 (.631 winning percentage), including his season-long suspension in 2012. He went 9-8 and led the Saints to the championship with a 31-17 victory over Indianapolis. Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.