It remains to be seen whether this is a contract of one year or more for Payton. He is not far from the minds of fans and league executives as he figures as the top candidate for any opener.
“I feel like I’ll probably coach again at some point and we’ll see what those opportunities look like. But right now I’m focused on the job at hand, which is getting to Los Angeles and getting ready to leave,” Payton said in a phone interview.
Payton stepped down in January after 15 seasons in charge of New Orleans. During his tenure, the Saints qualified for the playoffs nine times and won the Super Bowl against the Indianapolis Colts in 2010.
Prior to this season, Payton had made a few appearances on Fox Studio shows and had seen the benefits of being in the studio instead of being a game analyst.
“I have already worked in the studio. I’ve never been in a cabin before and they’re entirely different job descriptions,” he said. “I think the studio is a consistent place, generally speaking, where the booth goes to the site of the game. It’s also the smorgasbord of all games and pre-game, halftime or after the match, compared to the emphasis on broadcasting a single match.
“Fox NFL Kickoff” producer Jeremy Mennell said talks with Payton mostly centered on studio work, as Payton can tackle league-wide topics instead of just one game.
“He loves the whole league. Now he can expand that horizon and see and talk more and express a lot more about the game,” Mennell said.
Payton spent most of the summer in northern Idaho with her family while traveling. He did not visit any training camps and said the last two months had been relaxing.
There were a few times though where Payton felt like things were definitely different. The most notable for him was the draft weekend.
“It was more than the draft itself. There’s a whole class of players that you won’t have a frame of reference for because when you’re preparing for a draft you’re looking at between 280 and 350 players,” said Payton, who had an overall record of 161- 97 with the Saintes. “You kind of have those in your database when they come into the league, whatever team they go to.
“But it was good. It’s always a stressful time when the season starts, because you’re getting ready to work and grind and you have no idea what your team might be like.
Payton will spend most of his time this season in Los Angeles. He also still has a home in New Orleans.
The only thing Payton is looking forward to is watching his former assistants. Dennis Allen has been promoted to head coach after the past seven seasons as defensive coordinator for the Saints while Dan Campbell – who played and coached for Payton – is in his second year in charge of the Detroit Lions.
Longtime assistant Joe Lombardi is in his second season as the Los Angeles Chargers’ offensive coordinator and said Payton could be a good sounding board throughout the season.
“You don’t know how much attention he pays, but if he watches our games then he will have opinions, and they will be good opinions. He is always a good resource,” Lombardi said.
Mennell hopes Payton is with Fox longer than that this season, but also realizes the constant speculation could create some interesting moments. Payton and Johnson will do a segment on Sunday to discuss different teams, one of which will be the Dallas Cowboys. Not only was it the team Johnson led to two Super Bowl titles, but it was where Payton was a former assistant and was mentioned as a future candidate should Dallas move on from Mike McCarthy.
“There will be fun there,” Mennell said. “It’s one of those things with Sean, where we hope he’s here as long as he wants. And we hope it’s a long time. But we understand, he’s still very capable and very connected to the game. »
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