The Sean Payton era has come to a close, but the New Orleans Saints could face Payton on the opposite side of the field as soon as 2023.
Payton’s surprising decision to take a hiatus after the 2021 season has been the talk of the offseason and has only fueled rumors about what Payton plans to do next. A media stint with Fox Sports is currently in the works, though recent reports say it’s more likely than not that Payton will return to coaching. And it may not be with the Saints.
The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson revealed some updates on Payton’s future plans and had the esteemed former Saints coach connected to as many as three different teams.
By now, it’s no secret that Miami was trying to lure Payton away this past offseason, and Payton reportedly spoke to an assistant about the Dolphins job prior to stepping down as the Saints’ head coach.
According to a source close to Payton, the Dolphins could yet again pursue Payton next spring, and the Cowboys and Chargers are two other teams that could “interest” Payton should those head coaching jobs suddenly become available.
Per the same source, Payton is looking for the following characteristics in his next potential home: warm weather, a roster good enough to compete, and most importantly, control over personnel decisions.
Former Saints coach Sean Payton could be willing to coach the Dolphins, Cowboys, or Chargers in 2023
Payton was largely afforded free reign and control of personnel during his tenure in NOLA, and wanting that level of complete authority could sour his chances of landing in Dallas, where owner Jerry Jones runs a tight ship.
The Chargers are perhaps the most interesting inclusion since Los Angeles hired Brandon Staley fairly recently in January of 2021. Despite the cutthroat competition in the AFC West, should Staley lead his team to another third-place finish or miss the playoffs, his time in Los Angeles could be cut short.
Out of all the options, the Dolphins seem to check most of Payton’s boxes. Owner Stephen Ross may be amenable to giving Payton total control of his team, and Miami has good weather and solid roster pieces — not to mention the looming possibility that Tom Brady could join the franchise as a minority owner/ quarterback following the 2022 season. After all, a Brady-Payton duo in Miami very nearly manifested earlier this summer.
So what does this all mean for the Saints? Not much changes.
Assuming Sean Payton wants out of his Fox studio analyst job and is looking to coach again in 2023, he’s still under contract with NOLA through the 2024 season, and any team that wants to hire him would have to pay the Saints a king’s ransom.
The Saints could recover much of their lost draft capital from their offseason trade with the Eagles as any potential compensation for Payton would likely include multiple first-round picks (coincidentally, the Dolphins have a pair of first-round picks in 2023.)
In 2022, NOLA is just starting to navigate life without Payton, but the team could be pitted against their former head coach by next season. Talk about must-see TV.