Saints view Sean Payton as an asset and won’t discourage coaching transfer

METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis won’t stop former coach Sean Payton from returning to the league this year, but he said that return will come at a price.

Loomis maintained his appreciation for Payton, who coached the team from 2006 to 2021 and led them to their only Super Bowl victory.

The Saints immediately knew there was a possibility of Payton returning in 2023 after resigning after the 2021 season. Loomis said he hadn’t wanted to stand in the way of that process, but acknowledged they still wanted to. a fair return for the final two seasons of Payton’s contract.

“It’s complicated,” Loomis said Monday when asked his opinion on Payton’s return. “Because, look, I have such great respect for him. He’s a close friend. He’s a great coach. All of those things. And I want the best for him. I do. We do, collectively as an organization. He gave everything he could give to the New Orleans Saints and took us to heights that the organization and the team had never reached before. So, I want absolutely the best for him. But I also recognize that he’s a valuable asset, his contract is a valuable asset to our club, and it’s our job to maximize that. Look, I think between the quarterback or a head coach, no one has more of an impact on winning than these two guys in any building. So I know what he brings to the table and I know that’s really valuable And it’s our obligation to maximize that value if he chooses to coach again in that time frame that we have those rights.

The Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans have all reached out and been cleared to interview Payton as soon as NFL rules permit, Loomis confirmed. The Saints have not been asked or refused by any other team.

“They have to get our permission to have a discussion with him. And then we have to settle the compensation before they can actually make an offer to hire him,” Loomis said.

Loomis said the compensation involved would be different for each team depending on available assets, so he didn’t want to go into specifics. The Saints don’t have a first-round pick in 2023 after making a trade from the Philadelphia Eagles last year, but Payton’s potential compensation didn’t factor into that decision.

“I never expected to get anything for Sean because he might decide to do business with the media for five years, who knows?” said Loomis. “So we didn’t spend draft capital in the future hoping that we could get something if he decided to coach again.”

Loomis said all of the teams that have been cleared already know the general range of compensation the Saints want.

“We have not yet defined exactly what the compensation will be. They are well aware that there will be compensation,” Loomis said.

Loomis also said Dennis Allen will coach the Saints in 2023 despite going 7-10 in Allen’s first season. The Saints have largely retained the same coaching staff during Payton’s transition to Allen and have yet to make a decision on any changes to assistant staff this year.

“One of the things we’ve had going for us over the last 15 years or whatever is stability,” Loomis said. “I think that’s a hard commodity to come by in the NFL. So we’re looking for stability and that obviously starts with ownership and general manager and head coach and having a core of players that you nurture and develop and so that’s the attitude that we have and that’s the process and those are the things that we believe in and so I expect to continue that.”

Loomis said he wasn’t too worried about the possibility of Payton poaching assistants when building new staff.

“Our guys are under contract so the only guys who could really move without our permission are guys who get promoted to coordinator positions. So there’s not really a real need. I’m sure if there was someone they really wanted, who was a lateral move, he could call and ask and we’d probably say no,” Loomis said with a laugh.

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