Payton: Ryan interest came after Rams exit

METAIRIE, La. – New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton explained Wednesday that he found out defensive coordinator Rob Ryan had decided to leave the St. Louis Rams before he ever began talking with Ryan about the Saints’ job this past offseason.

The subject came up since the Saints are playing at St. Louis this week. Earlier in the day, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he was fine with the fact that Ryan had a “change of heart” after originally committing to become the Rams’ defensive coordinator in January. Ryan interviewed with the Saints about 10 days after he left the Rams.

It’s unclear whether Ryan believed he would have a good shot at the Saints’ job when he left St. Louis. Ryan hasn’t been asked about the Rams job since he has been in New Orleans, but the subject will surely come up during Ryan’s weekly media availability on Friday.

At the time, Fisher said the main sticking point with Ryan was a matter of defensive philosophy (namely a 3-4 front vs. a 4-3 front). And Payton said Wednesday that he heard Ryan was leaving before he ever talked to him.

The Saints also interviewed Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham before hiring Ryan.

“I had gotten a call, and it was from someone else that said, ‘Hey, he might be available. He’s not staying in St. Louis.’ And so once that was the case, then I had an interest. So it ended up working out for us,” explained Payton, who said he didn’t know Ryan very well at the time. “You know, I really hadn’t met him or spent any time with him. So I spent some time during that process, once I found out that he had left St. Louis. So it ended up being a plus for our team.”