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Coach Sean Payton steps away from New Orleans Saints

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Coach Sean Payton steps away from New Orleans Saints
Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton informed the team that he will step away from his role. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Sean Payton decided to leave as head coach of the New Orleans Saints, despite three years remaining on his contract with the NFC South franchise, he told reporters Tuesday.

Payton, 58, served as Saints coach for each of the past 16 years.

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"When you make a decision like this, you spend time with your loved ones," Payton told reporters at a news conference. "I've confided in those guys quite a bit and talked about these decisions.

"They've been extremely good listeners."

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Payton led the Saints to a Super Bowl title in 2010. He posted a 152-89 record in 241 regular-season games. He led the team to a 9-8 mark in the postseason.

The Saints went 9-8 and missed the playoffs in 2021. They won at least 11 games in each season from 2017 through 2020. Payton's Saints posted winning records in 10 of his 15 seasons.

The 2006 Coach of the Year's 152 wins are tied with Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll for 21st all-time. Former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula is the NFL's all-time winningest coach, with 328 victories.

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Saints owner Gale Benson told reporters Monday that the team "didn't know" if Payton would return as coach in 2022, but she expected the veteran coach to inform the team "soon enough."

Payton, who was under contract with the team through 2024, was previously linked to several football broadcast openings with several major networks.

He told reporters Tuesday that he hasn't spoken to media outlets about a broadcast job, but that he is interested in those opportunities. He also said that he didn't know "what's next."

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Payton did not rule out a potential return to coaching in the NFL.

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