NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Bill Parcells is unlikely to become the New Orleans Saints' interim coach, according to multiple reports.
Parcells prefers to remain retired and not replace his protege and friend, Sean Payton, who will serve a season-long suspension for his role in New Orleans' bounty system, the reports said.
Saints spokesman Greg Bensel declined Tuesday to confirm Parcells has been ruled out as a possible Payton replacement, saying the team ``has nothing to report'' concerning the search for an interim coach.
Parcells' agent, Jimmy Sexton, also declined comment.
If the Saints decide to select a replacement from their existing staff, the leading candidates are: assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who will serve a six-game suspension; offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael Jr.; offensive line coach Aaron Kromer; new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Last season, Vitt and Carmichael took on significant additional responsibilities when Payton was rehabilitating for weeks from a broken leg.
Vitt, who also oversees linebackers, took on many of the broader responsibilities, including handling the head coach's media availability. Carmichael began calling plays, something Payton had done before his injury. Payton allowed Carmichael to continue calling plays through the final 10 regular season games of 2011 as the Saints went 9-1 and broke numerous NFL offensive records.
If Vitt were to step back in as interim coach, he would be able to oversee the preseason, but then would have to step aside for the first six games of the regular season before returning for the last 10, plus whatever playoff run the Saints may make.
The Saints would have more continuity if they went with either Carmichael, Kromer or Spagnuolo as interim coach. Spagnuolo has head coaching experience after spending the last three seasons in that role with St. Louis, but has only been with the Saints for about three months.
Carmichael arrived in New Orleans with Payton in 2006 and Kromer joined the staff in 2008, but both have increasingly been mentioned as up-and-coming head coaching candidates around the league.