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USATSI

Sean Payton's tenure with the New Orleans Saints came to a close this offseason when he decided to step down from his post and press pause on his coaching career. The 58-year-old will now spend the 2022 season away from the sideline, but won't be too far from football as he'll serve as a studio analyst on Fox. While some may have viewed Payton's departure from the New Orleans gig as a possible retirement, that doesn't appear to be the case. 

On top of the scuttlebutt that he could make his return to coaching in short order, Payton himself addressed the possibility and believes he'll find himself back as a head coach in the NFL

"Ultimately, do I think I'll get back in? Sure," Payton told USA TODAY.

Payton's comments come after a report from the Miami Herald was released that cited an unnamed source close to the coach saying he was eyeing three teams as his possible next landing spot -- the Cowboys, Chargers, and Dolphins

Before hiring Mike McDaniel, Miami showed the most interest in Payton this offseason as they reportedly planned to try and hire him and possibly pair him with current Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady. Of course, the Cowboys have long been a rumored next step for Payton given his relationship with owner Jerry Jones. Lastly, if the Chargers miss the playoffs in 2022 under Brandon Staley, that could open the door for Payton to link up with one of the brightest young quarterbacks in the league in Justin Herbert

All that said, Payton did note that it's almost impossible to predict what jobs will be open whenever he decides to return to the league. 

"There's no way to predict who that club might be," he said. "Usually, there are about six openings every year. If there's a right fit somewhere, that ultimately will depend on several factors."

It is worth pointing out that the Saints still have Payton under contract through 2024, which means a team that wants to bring him out of this soft retirement would need to acquire his rights from New Orleans. With all that in mind, a lot of things will need to fall into place for Payton to be lured out of retirement, but he certainly seems open -- possibly even eager -- for the opportunity. 

"We'll deal with it when the time comes," he said.