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Saints owner Gayle Benson on Sean Payton's future: 'I don't think any of us know'

Saints owner Gayle Benson on Sean Payton's future: 'I don't think any of us know'
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, shown Oct. 3, 2021, is under contract through the 2024 season. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 24 (UPI) -- New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson acknowledged Monday that head coach Sean Payton's status with the franchise remains uncertain for the 2022 season.

"We don't know. You know, who knows? We'll find out soon enough, I guess," said Benson, who was speaking at a Mardi Gras-related event. "I don't think any of us know, but he'll let us know soon enough."

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NFL Media reported Sunday that Payton had yet to commit to returning to the Saints in 2022. ESPN later confirmed that Payton had not made a definitive declaration to return, though he was back at the Saints' practice facility Monday afternoon after a vacation last week.

The 58-year-old Payton is under contract with the Saints through the 2024 season, which means a trade would have to be agreed to for him to coach another NFL team. However, ESPN reported that television networks have shown interest in Payton if he decides to retire from coaching.

The Saints had a 9-8 record and missed the postseason for the first time in five seasons in 2021. Payton has served as head coach of the Saints since 2006.

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If Payton opts to move on from New Orleans, the team likely would consider both defensive coordinator Dennis Allen and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr. as possible replacements. The franchise also could explore head-coaching options outside of the organization.

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