Wednesday’s roundup: Payton says he’ll stay with Saints

Associated Press

Metarie, La. — Saints coach Sean Payton said on Wednesday he’s remaining with New Orleans, ending speculation that he could be on the move after consecutive 7-9 seasons.

Payton has been with the Saints for a decade and coming off his first consecutive losing seasons.

“I don’t envision myself ever coaching for any other clubs,” Payton said.

“I know it appeared there was a looming decision, but I think this is really me saying again … here I am and nothing’s changing and I plan on finishing my career here. … I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me.”

Payton began his first and only NFL head coaching job with the Saints in 2006. He has gone 87-57 in the regular season with five playoff appearances and one Super Bowl title in the 2009 season.

His playoff record is 6-4. Payton’s record excludes the 2012 season, when he was suspended in connection with the NFL’s bounty investigation.

Buccaneers dismiss Smith

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired coach Lovie Smith on Wednesday night.

Smith went 6-10 this season and 8-24 over two years in charge of the team. The announcement came as a surprise to many because Smith’s job was not considered to be in danger.

A statement from Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer said, “This decision was difficult on a variety of levels. I am disappointed that we were not more successful these past few seasons, but we are committed to doing what is necessary to give our fans the winning team they deserve."

General manager Jason Licht will oversee the search for a new coach.

Smith led the Chicago Bears to the NFC title in 2006, when they lost to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl. He was 84-66 in nine seasons with Chicago.

Dalton takes step back

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton walked around the field glumly in a stocking cap, coat and gloves on Wednesday, a step back from a day earlier when he did conditioning drills and threw a pass left-handed.

Dalton had hoped that his broken right thumb would be well enough to let him be at least a backup for Cincinnati’s home playoff game on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Bengals will start AJ McCarron, trying to break their 25-year streak of playoff futility. He took over when Dalton broke his thumb during a 33-20 loss to the Steelers on Dec. 13.

Extra points

Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch is “full go” for returning to practice after being away from the team since undergoing abdominal surgery in late November. If he makes it through the week, Lynch would be the presumptive starter for Sunday’s NFC wild-card game against Minnesota.