The New Orleans Saints surprisingly have a head coaching search on their hands. Who are the early favorites to replace Sean Payton?
Payton had been with New Orleans for 16 years — an eternity for any head coach. He decided he needed a break to step away from football for at least a year.
At 58 years old, Payton could still have some years coaching ahead of him, should he wish. He’d have plenty of offers, as two teams have reportedly already reached out to him. But that’s not where his heart is.
“I don’t know what’s next — and it kind of feels good,” Payton said. “But, man, I felt like it was time. … But not with any regret. There’s some excitement, like, ‘All right, what’s next?’”
Where do Saints go from here?
The Saints must jumpstart their head coaching search relatively late in the game. New Orleans didn’t see Payton’s retirement coming, and therefore has to act quickly to replace him.
Per Adam Schefter, the Saints head coach candidates include Aaron Glenn, Byron Leftwich and Dennis Allen. Leftwich is the early frontrunner to land the Jacksonville Jaguars job. The former Jags quarterback is currently employed as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator.
Owner Gayle Benson gave Saints fans an inside look at what the organization is looking for in a Payton replacement:
“I think we’re gonna do a great job in choosing another person that’s going to be able to lead us the way that Sean did,” Benson said.
Finding the next Payton is easier said than done. The Saints front office has been working around the clock to replace him.
Glenn, the current defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions, is a fast riser in NFL ranks as well. He will be a head coach one day. Allen is the Saints current defensive coordinator, and could be an easy fix as an in-house replacement.