It seemed such an intriguing idea: Coaching icon Bill Parcells taking over the New Orleans Saints while his protégé, Sean Payton, served a full-season suspension for his role in the team's bounty system. But Parcells, who had initially indicated he would at least consider the job in large part because of his relationship with Payton,...
It seemed such an intriguing idea: Coaching icon Bill Parcells taking over the New Orleans Saints while his protégé, Sean Payton, served a full-season suspension for his role in the team’s bounty system.
But Tuesday, Parcells, who had initially indicated he would at least consider the job in large part because of his relationship with Payton, made clear he intended to remain retired from the sideline and would not coach the Saints.
“Only concern is about my friend Sean Payton,” the 70-year-old Parcells said in a text message.
NFL.com and ESPN also reported Parcells has opted to stay retired.
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Sources said the Saints are considering turning to Joe Vitt, the team’s assistant head coach, who will serve a six-game suspension at the start of the regular season.
Vitt, a former Seahawks assistant coach, is a confidant of Payton’s and the league’s bounty investigation revealed he was designated by Payton to report on the activities of Gregg Williams, who was then the Saints’ defensive coordinator and oversaw the bounty system.
When Payton was injured last season, his coaching duties were divided among several assistants, although Vitt assumed a role closest to a de facto coach.
Although nothing has been set in stone, elevating Vitt would leave in place the offensive and defensive coordinators, Pete Carmichael Jr. and Steve Spagnuolo. That would alleviate a concern Payton has expressed about further disrupting the team. It also offers the Saints a bit of continuity Parcells, as an outsider with little relationship with members of the New Orleans coaching staff, could not have provided.
Parcells, who guided the New York Giants to two Super Bowl victories, has not coached since the 2006 season with the Dallas Cowboys.
Vitt’s tenure would have its own challenges. While Payton’s suspension starts Monday — the same day players can report for offseason workouts — Vitt is allowed to work throughout the offseason and the exhibition season. He could run voluntary player workouts and training camp, the schedules for which Payton already has laid out in preparation for his suspension.
Vitt’s suspension would begin with the first week of the regular season, and it is unclear which coach or coaches would make in-game decisions in his absence.
• Saints quarterback Drew Brees declined to say whether he will attend offseason workouts; he would much rather have a long-term contract extension than the franchise tag that was placed on him.
• Carolina receiver Steve Smith, 32, signed a three-year extension that will likely keep him with the Panthers through at least the 2015 season. He reportedly will get about $18 million in guaranteed money. Smith caught 79 passes for 1,394 yards and seven touchdowns last season.