Super Bowl-winning head coach Sean Payton is currently working for Fox Sports as an studio analyst during the 2022 season after resigning his position with the New Orleans Saints.
In no way does this mean that a return to the NFL sidelines isn’t in the cards. Payton has noted multiple times in the recent past that he’s not done coaching. Most reecntly, he talked about that possibility back in September.
“If the right situation presented itself, I would definitely be interested. And there’s no utopia, if you will, when it comes to teams, but if I felt like it was the right situation, I would have an interest in that. That all being said, that could come in a year, that could come in two years.”
At issue here is the fact that Payton remains under contract with the Saints. Any team looking to bring him in would likely have to work out a trade with the Saints. According to this report from Pro Football Focus, said asking price could come in at two first-round picks.
“So, the league source believed the conversation for Payton would start at two first-round picks. He believed the Saints could potentially be talked down to one first-round pick, but if he was traded in-division, New Orleans could try to seek three firsts.”
This came amid talk about the possibility that the Carolina Panthers could target Payton after they fired head coach Matt Rhule. That seems highly unlikely given they are division rivals and where the Panthers are at in their rebuild process.
Potential Sean Payton landing spots
With Carolina highly unlikely to land Payton, there’s a few different teams that might have interest if the asking price isn’t too high. That includes another division rival.
Atlanta Falcons bring in veteran coach
Heading into Week 6, Atlanta sits at 2-3 under head coach Arthur Smith. He’s a mere 7-12 as the Falcons’ head coach. There’s also some issues as it relates to Smith’s standing after some recent controversial comments directed at the media over the Falcons’ recent performance. In short, he put the media on blast for the poor outings rather than taking responsibility. This doesn’t paint Smith in the best of lights.
Atlanta would seemingly be an ideal fit for Payton. It has a young quarterback in Desmond Ridder and a couple great young skill-position players. Having the respected Arthur Blank in an ownership role with the Falcons doesn’t hurt either.
“The most important element is functional ownership [and] front office … because there’s a handful of teams that aren’t, and those teams, regardless of what takes place, they can win on Sunday but they have trouble winning long term.”
Payton previously flirted with the Miami Dolphins, leading to owner Stephen Ross finding himself suspended for tampering. That’s not a “functional ownership,” as Payton defined it. Blank brings that to the table. Though, there’s one major sticking point here. Payton will still be under contract with the Saints for two more seasons after the 2022 campaign. New Orleans would likely demand multiple first-round picks in a trade.
Sean Payton heads back to the Dallas Cowboys
Let’s be honest here. If Payton were to make the decision to coach again, it will likely be under Jerry Jones in Dallas. He was an assistant with the team from 2003-05 and shares a great relationship with Jones. He’ also been linked to America’s Team for the better part of the past decade.
Jones has also made it darn clear that it’s championship contention or bust for head coach Mike McCarthy in his third season with the Cowboys. Currently sitting at a surprising 4-1 with Dak Prescott still sidelined, McCarthy’s job might be safe for the time being. But another premature playoff exit would change that. From a fit perspective, Dallas could afford to offer up the draft capital New Orleans might want given the talent it has on the roster right now.
Bill Belichick steps away from the New England Patriots
At 70 years old, there’s no telling when this legendary head coach is going to call it quits. What we do know is that New England isn’t a serious championship contender right now. It took a major step back once Tom Brady departed following the 2019 season and isn’t much more than a bottom-end playoff team.
Wil Belichick want to continue on the sideline coaching a rebuilding or retooling squad? It certainly is an open question given this season’s iteration of the Patriots. If he does surprisingly call it quits, Payton would make the most sense given his track record of success.
- Sean Payton coaching record: 152-89, .631 winning percentage, 9-8 playoff record, 1 Super Bowl title
Based on Payton’s own definition of what he’s looking for, New England would make sense here. Robert Kraft is among the longest-tenured owners in the NFL. The Pats also have a young signal caller in Mac Jones who would work well under the Super Bowl-winning head man.
Other potential Sean Payton landing spots
- Washington Commanders: This seems highly unlikely given what Payton is looking for in an organization. Daniel Snyder remains the Commanders’ owner after allegations surfaced of widespread workplace misconduct. He’s not highly respected around NFL circles. Short of Snyder being forced to sell, Payton will not be heading to Maryland even if Ron Rivera is given his walking papers.
- Pittsburgh Steelers: With only three head coaches to call their own since the end of the 1968 season, Pittsburgh remains one of the most stable organizations in football. Despite a 1-4 start to the season, there’s no logical reason to believe that Mike Tomlin is on the block. With that said, he could decide that 16 years is enough with one organization. If so, Pittsburgh would likely be the best fit.
- Indianapolis Colts: General manager Chris Ballard has put a lot on the line for Frank Reich to succeed as the Colts’ head coach. That has not happened. Indianapolis finds itself at 2-2-1 on the season after missing the playoffs in 2021. Perhaps, Indianapolis finds a way to land Sean Payton as a replacement should things continue to sour with Reich. We wouldn’t put it past owner Jim Irsay.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.