Sean Payton's interest in this coaching job is one of NFL's 'worst-kept secrets'

By , Audacy Sports

The future of former Saints head coach Sean Payton has been a topic of speculation since his departure from New Orleans last offseason.

Now, with the NFL coaching carousel lurching into gear, it seems Payton's next move could be coming into focus.

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According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, Payton, who has been working as a studio analyst with FOX NFL Sunday, is "lurking in a big way" to find his next job.

In fact, one of the "worst-kept secrets" around the league is Payton's apparent interest in leading the Los Angeles Chargers in the event the team fires head coach Brandon Staley, per Fowler.

Fowler added that Payton could "wait out" the Chargers, though he also noted that the Saints would have to agree to trade Payton's rights, since he's still under contract with New Orleans.

In Los Angeles, Payton would presumably want to retain and work with budding star quarterback Justin Herbert.

Payton, who turns 59 in December, is largely seen as an offensive mastermind and was widely credited with helping to bring Drew Brees' game to the next level after Brees enjoyed modest success in the first five years of his career with the Chargers.

This season marks Payton's first year as a broadcaster following a 16-year, 15-season run with the Saints (he was suspended for all of the 2012 campaign due to the Bountygate scandal).

In New Orleans, Payton compiled a shiny .631 winning percentage in the regular season, going 152-89. His teams made nine playoff appearances, including a Super Bowl title in 2009.

Payton has also been rumored to be a possible candidate to coach the Cowboys if they were to move on from Mike McCarthy, though that seems unlikely at the moment given that the Cowboys are enjoying a strong season under McCarthy.

Earlier this year, the Miami Dolphins were fined by the NFL after they were found to have tampered with Payton while he was still under contract with the Saints. The Dolphins were apparently looking to hire Payton and pair him with Tom Brady, who later returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the plan was scuttled by Brian Flores' landmark discrimination lawsuit.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today