Reports: Sean Payton assembling staff for planned NFL return

Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Payton plans to be back on the sideline for an NFL team next season and has gone so far as to assemble the majority of his coaching staff.

According to ESPN and NFL Network, Payton is near the top of the list of candidates for multiple teams and is believed to be under strong consideration with the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts, and he’s loosely connected to potential openings with the Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals.

The Panthers and Colts have interim coaches in place after making in-season changes.

In January, Payton stepped aside as head coach of the New Orleans Saints after 15 seasons. Because his contract had not expired with the Saints, they would be due compensation from any team that advances to the contract negotiation stage with Payton.

ESPN reported Payton has discussed the defensive coordinator job for his next staff with Vic Fangio, the ex-Denver Broncos head coach who was a highly respected defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Colts, Panthers and Houston Texans.

When Payton, who turns 59 next week, left the Saints, he said at his farewell press conference he wasn’t using the word “retire.”

Speculation based on his previous term as Dallas Cowboys’ assistant coach paired Payton with known ally Jerry Jones, but the Cowboys are on a playoff course again. Barring a quick exit, Jones is expected to stick with Mike McCarthy as head coach.

He had a 152-89 record with the Saints and led the Saints to a win in Super Bowl XLIV following the 2009 season, the only championship in franchise history.

–Field Level Media

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