NEW ORLEANS – Sean Payton renewed his pledge to keep coaching the New Orleans Saints on Wednesday when asked by the Jacksonville media about the continued speculation that he might be pursued by other teams in the offseason.
Payton still has two years remaining on his contract, so the Saints would have to agree to let him go – which would likely have to come with significant compensation in return.
“Well, I said this earlier in the season. ... This is my ninth year coaching here in New Orleans, and it’s come up every, I’m going to say, two to three years. And I guess ... listen, it comes with the territory,” Payton said. “This is where I call home. I just finished building a home here. I’m close enough to my son back in Dallas where I’m pretty much back there once a week or he’s over here; my daughter is off in college now.
“So, I see myself coaching this team long past this season.”
Payton made very similar comments in October after the first report surfaced from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that multiple teams, including the Miami Dolphins, are expected to inquire about Payton’s availability after the season.
Other reports have followed from various outlets, some speculating that Payton might entertain the idea. But there has been no strong indication yet that either the Saints or Payton are eager to part ways, even after their second straight losing season.
Payton has talked often about being energized by the attitude and work ethic of a very young roster that was overhauled this past offseason.
Payton was also asked if he assumes quarterback Drew Brees will be back with the Saints next year, and he said, “Yes, absolutely.”
There has also been growing speculation that the Saints could consider trading Brees in the offseason because he turns 37 in January and will cost $30 million against New Orleans’ salary cap in the final year of his contract in 2016.
Payton stressed, however, that Brees is still “playing at a very high level.”
“I understand [the question]. It’s the business we’re in. And yet he’s playing at a very high level,” said Payton, who said he believes Brees is throwing the football even better than he was last year after he suffered an oblique injury during the preseason. “His mechanics, his arm strength has been outstanding. Two weeks ago in Tampa Bay, he made a throw down the sideline and into the wind in Cover 2 that was unbelievable.
“So, yes, to answer your question, I do.”