Saints hire Cowboys' Payton as head coach

Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Saints will hire Dallas Cowboys assistant Sean Payton to his first NFL head coaching job, a team official familiar with the decision said Tuesday.
The Saints' official was speaking on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the formal announcement wasn't expected until today.
Payton has been a quarterbacks coach for three seasons under Bill Parcells in Dallas. He also held the title of assistant head coach. Before that, he was a New York Giants assistant, a stint that included that team's NFC Championship in 2000.
Payton was one of five candidates interviewed by the Saints at the team's headquarters last week. The others were Jets defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, former Green Bay head coach Mike Sherman and former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz.
Payton will succeed Jim Haslett, whose tenure lasted six years. The Saints were 3-13 in 2005, a season in which all of their "home" games were played on the road because of Hurricane Katrina. The Saints were a .500 team during Haslett's first five seasons combined.
n JETS: Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini was hired, becoming the youngest head coach in the NFL. Mangini, a disciple of Bill Belichick, turns 35 Thursday. He replaces Herman Edwards, who left for Kansas City after five seasons.
Mangini accepted an offer from the Jets on Monday night, a few hours after the team interviewed former Vikings coach Mike Tice. But the deal wasn't completed until Tuesday morning. Terms of the deal weren't known but it is believed he will get between $2 million and $2.5 million per year over five years.
n LIONS: The Detroit Free Press reports the team has invited coaching candidates Rod Marinelli and Haslett for second interviews.
Marinelli, Tampa Bay's defensive line coach, was scheduled to arrive Tuesday night. Haslett is scheduled to arrive tonight, the source said.
San Francisco 49ers assistant head coach Mike Singletary no longer is a candidate, 49ers coach Mike Nolan told the Associated Press. And Buffalo vice president of communications Scott Berchtold confirmed that Lions interim coach Dick Jauron interviewed Tuesday for the Bills' head coaching job.
n NINERS: Norv Turner, fired as coach of the Raiders two weeks ago, moved across San Francisco Bay to become the '49ers offensive coordinator.
n OBIT: Ron Jessie, a former receiver who played 11 seasons in the NFL, has died. He was 57. He played for the Lions, Rams and Bills.
Payton has said the Saints' poor showing in 2005 did not deter him from seeking the job.
"It's hard to look at their talent now compared to their record with all of the circumstances and things that they've gone through," Payton said last week. "It's a team that's certainly shown that they can be competitive and I would look forward to that challenge."
Payton's background as a quarterbacks coach - he also had a very brief pro playing career at that position in the CFL and as a Chicago Bears replacement player in the 1987 strike season - could serve him well in New Orleans, which is expected to draft a quarterback with the second overall pick in the NFL draft.
Aaron Brooks, the Saints' starter for most of the past six seasons, had his worst season in 2005 and was benched for the final three games. If the Saints keep Brooks they would owe him about $6.5 million in salary next season.
When Payton interviewed for the job, he declined to comment on whether he thought Brooks should stay or go, but he did say that the Saints asked him about developing a quarterback.
"We talked about that," Payton said. "I enjoy coaching that position. I enjoy being involved in the offense. I would certainly look forward to being involved with that development."
Payton could not be reached at the Dallas Cowboys' headquarters on Tuesday evening.
This is the first coach hired by current general manager Mickey Loomis, who was promoted after team owner Tom Benson fired Randy Mueller in 2002. Mueller, now the Miami Dolphins' GM, hired Haslett.
Payton is the second straight coach hired by the Saints with no head coaching experience. It worked well early last time as Haslett took the Saints to the franchise's first playoff victory in his first season. But New Orleans has missed the playoffs in the five seasons since.

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