Sean Payton may stay at Fox Sports after flirting with NFL return

The couching carousel might spin without Sean Payton landing on a horse.

Payton, the former Super Bowl-winning coach of the Saints who spent this past season as a studio analyst at Fox Sports, appeared to be the hottest candidate in a cycle with open jobs that included the Panthers, Colts, Cardinals, Texans and Broncos.

However, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media pointed out on Wednesday, “It does not seem like a second interview is coming with any of those places” that initially spoke with Payton.

The 59-year-old had an in-person visit with the Cardinals on Thursday.

Payton coached the Saints from 2006-21 (except for 2012 when he was suspended for Bountygate). New Orleans won 63.1 percent of the regular-season games he coached. Two possible issues with hiring Payton are that he will command top dollar and that whomever brings him in would have to work out trade compensation with the Saints, where he remains under contract.

Sean Payton may not have a landing spot in this coaching cycle, according to NFL Media.
Getty Images

Three jobs that would have been intriguing for him did not ultimately open up. Sean McVay opted to stick with the Rams after it was rumored he might step away. The Chargers are sticking with Brandon Staley despite a disappointing first-round playoff exit. Mike McCarthy appears safe in Dallas, where Payton once served as offensive coordinator and has an enduring relationship with owner Jerry Jones.

The Panthers announced Thursday that they hired Frank Reich, who was fired by the Colts this past season, as head coach. The Broncos have made 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans a “top candidate,” according to local reporter Mike Klis.

There have been reports that Colts owner Jim Irsay wants to hire Jeff Saturday, the longtime former center for the team who stunningly became the team’s interim coach this past season, but there is some dissent within the organization.