After several days of speculation and uncertainty, Sean Payton is staying in New Orleans.
Payton is 87-57 in nine seasons with the Saints and has made the playoffs five times. He is 6-4 in the postseason and led the Saints to a Super Bowl win over the Colts in February 2010.
“I think it’s good for the Saints (that he’s coming back),” NFL Network analyst Charles Casserly said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He’s the best asset they have. I’m happy for the Saints. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes on this, but if I was the Saints, I wouldn’t let him out of (his) contract, and I’d say, ‘This is where you’re going to coach.’”
The Saints were reportedly seeking a second-round draft pick for Payton, who is under contract through the 2017 season. With the Colts extending Chuck Pagano for four years, however, it is unlikely Payton wanted to leave New Orleans, where he has an established quarterback in Drew Brees.
If Payton couldn’t coach Brees or Andrew Luck, where else realistically would he have gone?
“Well, in Miami, Tannehill is a prospect, I think, that can keep improving,” Casserly said. “I don’t see him at an elite level, but I think he’s a guy that gives you a chance to win, and they seem to have New England’s (number). Not a lot of teams have been able to beat New England on a consistent basis on their home turf, so I think there’s a chance there. I thought Tennessee with Marcus Mariota, that’s a great young prospect. That’d be an exciting place to work, I think. They have the first pick in the draft, so you can market that and maybe get some extra picks and at least pick another really good football player. So I think there was some options out there.
“But why this happened, I can’t tell you the behind the scenes part of it,” Casserly continued. “I can only tell you that if I was there, Sean Payton wouldn’t be leaving. He’s going to honor his contract, and we’re happy to have him.”
The Saints have finished 7-9 in three of the last four years, during which they have just one playoff win. New Orleans started 1-5 and 4-10 before winning three of four to close the season.