Former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said he'd be interested in a return to the NFL if the "right situation" presented itself.
"If the right situation presented itself, I would definitely be interested," Payton said during a recent appearance on the NewOrleans.Football podcast (h/t ESPN). "And there's no utopia, if you will, when it comes to teams, but if I felt like it was the right situation, I would have an interest in that. That all being said, that could come in a year, that could come in two years."
Payton added that the ideal situation would need to have the right ownership and front office in place.
"The most important element is functional ownership [and] front office ... because there's a handful of teams that aren't, and those teams, regardless of what takes place, they can win on Sunday but they have trouble winning long term," Payton said. "The opportunity to win consistently and the willingness to build the correct culture and all those things."
Payton informed the Saints that he was "stepping away" from the team in January. The former Super Bowl champion will still have two years remaining on his contract with New Orleans after the completion of the 2022 season, which means another team would have to seek consent with the Saints to negotiate with Payton, as well as provide compensation if he's hired.
Last month, the Miami Dolphins were penalized by the NFL after primary team owner Stephen Ross and vice chairman/limited partner Bruce Beal were found to have violated anti-tampering policy during three separate incidents from 2019 to 2022 in relation to conversations with Payton, as well as former New England Patriots and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
The Dolphins were also found to have had "impermissible communications" with agent Don Yee -- who represents both Brady and Payton -- in relation to Payton coaching the team next season.
The NFL found that the Dolphins "did not seek consent" with Payton's former team, the Saints, amid his recent retirement decision, which was necessary.
Payton, 58, is the winningest head coach in Saints franchise history with a 152-89 (.631 winning percentage) regular season and 9-8 (.529) playoff record since being hired in 2006.
The San Mateo, California native led New Orleans to its only Super Bowl victory in franchise history during the 2009-10 season, defeating the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17, in Super Bowl XLIV.
New Orleans finished the 2021 season with a 9-8 record after battling through numerous crucial injuries, which included losing starting quarterback Jameis Winston to a season-ending ACL tear in Week 8 and having to relocate early home games due to Hurricane Ida.