Sean Payton has not committed to returning to the New Orleans Saints yet for 2022, which has sparked all sorts of rumors.
It appears that the most likely route, if he does leave the Saints, would be to retire and take a job in the media until he wants to coach again. Fox Sports is reportedly interested in Payton as a potential replacement for Troy Aikman, if the latter joins Amazon full time.
But what are Payton’s other options if he does not want to coach the Saints, but still coach?
He has three more years left on his $45 million contract, making him one of the highest-paid head coaches in the league.
If he does not want to coach the Saints, he could request a trade. Yes, coaches have been traded in the past and it would be a way for him to get out of New Orleans while under contract.
Of course, that scenario seems the least likely to happen. But it is not impossible, and if it it does happen, which teams would make the most sense to pursue Payton via trade?
Sean Payton and the Dallas Cowboys have been linked for many years. Payton has ties to the organization serving as an assistant head coach under Bill Parcells before he became head coach of the Saints and has constantly been rumored as a potential replacement, as recently as 2019 after the team fired Jason Garrett.
Mike McCarthy is still the head coach of the Cowboys, but Jerry Jones has been very careful in his public comments and has not definitively stated that McCarthy will return. His son, executive vice president Stephen Jones, has said McCarthy will be back, however.
If the Cowboys were to move on from McCarthy, acquiring Payton could be an ideal scenario, but would the Cowboys pay up for him is the question? It would cost them picks and money — Payton makes more than McCarthy’s $6 million per year salary — which could deter Dallas, but if the Cowboys do not believe in McCarthy, Payton should be their guy.
The moment news broke on Sunday that Payton has not committed to returning to the Saints, Bears fans immediately flocked to Twitter to try and manifest Payton to their team. Chicago has interviewed several candidates already, but none have the pedigree of Payton, who has had sustained success as a head coach for 15 years.
Payton would help Justin Fields reach his full potential the way he did Brees, and even Jameis Winston, albeit for half a season. However, previous coaching trades for Bill Belichick and Jon Gruden involved first-round picks, which the Bears do not have in 2022, making any potential deal for Payton a difficult hurdle.
New York Giants
On Monday, it was reported that the Giants were conducting a second interview with Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, so the team may have its head coach in place sooner than later. But why not entertain the thought, as former WFAN host Mike Francesa did on Twitter Sunday night?
Payton has ties to the Giants, serving as their offensive coordinator from 2000-2003 and he is part of the Parcells coaching tree. The Giants have multiple first-round picks, aka the assets to get a deal done, and the presence of Payton would restore credibility to a franchise that has been floundering in irrelevancy for the last four seasons.
The Cardinals had a disappointing finish to their 2021 season and it is time to start wondering if Kliff Kingsbury is the right person for the job. Imagine a Cardinals offense with Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins with Sean Payton calling the shots? It could be reminiscent of the Drew Brees Saints teams, which any franchise would sign up for.