Breaking down where the Saints could trade Sean Payton

Sean Payton
Sean Payton / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton continues to be linked to a variety of NFL teams next season, with the latest being a recent Super Bowl champion.

Ever since stepping down from the Saints in January of this year, Payton has been rumored to take the helm at three different franchises: the Dallas Cowboys (as always), the Los Angeles Chargers, and the Arizona Cardinals.

Whichever team wants to obtain Payton will have to deal with the Saints first as Payton is under contract with NOLA for three years. If he returns to coaching, the Saints will have to trade him and they'll expect a nice haul in return. The team in question must also be willing to pay Payton a top-dollar coaching contract and cede significant power over appointing personnel, one of Payton's presumable demands.

The Athletic's Mike Sando recently wrote about the complicated nature of Sean Payton's potential return to the league and listed the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos as dark horse contenders for Payton's services.

Whereas the Chargers may not check all the boxes to facilitate a Payton trade, the Rams pose as an arguably more viable marriage. The Rams' "screw them picks" philosophy and the undecided futures of Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay, both of whom have thriving family lives, make the franchise a logical fit for the ex-Saints head coach.

Saints' ex-coach Sean Payton could join an NFC foe in 2023

If Sean McVay decides to call it quits early and pursue a media career in 2023 (Amazon already gave him a call this past offseason), Payton represents a tempting choice as McVay's successor since the franchise highly covets that kind of "star power."

Sando also wrote that Denver will likely make some changes after this season, which is less conjecture than fact given the disastrous head coach-quarterback duo of Nathaniel Hackett and Russell Wilson. The Broncos may have quite a few personnel openings next season, and they could perhaps go after "someone with Payton's pedigree" who can "provide the necessary coaching."

Payton probably wouldn't relish the opportunity to coach Russell Wilson as one of Sando's sources claimed Payton "doesn't want anything to do with that," and no one can really blame him.

The Rams, on the other hand, represent an intriguing contender in the Sean Payton sweepstakes with the situation hinging entirely on what Sean McVay chooses to do after the 2022 season.

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Of course, there's also the infamous "no-call" controversy that may play a factor in Payton's ultimate decision. Seeing Sean Payton join the Rams would no doubt break a little piece of Saints' fans' hearts everywhere.