The New Orleans Saints could alter the franchise if they did trade Sean Payton this offseason.
Although he retired after last season, the New Orleans Saints still own the rights to Sean Payton.
He may be enjoying his new gig as an NFL analyst for FOX, but Payton still has about 10 years of high-quality coaching left in the tank if he so chooses. His abrupt retirement shocked New Orleans, but the Saints brass was able to promote defensive coordinator Dennis Allen from within. However, if Payton is to be an NFL head coach again, it is certainly not going to be in New Orleans.
With the division rival Carolina Panthers firing Matt Rhule on Monday, one would think Payton would be at the top of the list for teams looking for new head coaches this offseason. The belief is Payton would fetch a first-round pick if the Saints were to trade him. Carolina plays in the same division as the Saints, so that makes things challenging. Then again, David Tepper is one of a kind…
The Saints own Payton’s coaching rights through the 2023 season. After that, he is a free agent.
New Orleans Saints: Trading Sean Payton’s rights could be franchise-altering
The reason why a first-round pick is significant is that is the precedent that has been set when it comes to trading for a high-end head football coach. Although the last time it happened was over 20 years ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do not regret trading for Jon Gruden in a deal with the then-Oakland Raiders. A lot has changed since, but Gruden did bring Tampa Bay a Super Bowl…
Interestingly, the two teams that are tied to Payton if he were to get back into coaching next year are Carolina and the Dallas Cowboys. The Carolina fit has to do with Tepper being an aggressive owner, as well as the Panthers being the only team with a head-coaching vacancy currently. Of course, trading for Payton would cost Carolina its first-round pick, and they need a quarterback…
The Dallas connection is mostly due to Payton previously working under Jerry Jones as a part of Bill Parcells’ Cowboys staff. It feels like a pipe dream, as Jones does not do well with head coaches who want a say in personnel: Parcells and Jimmy Johnson most famously before that. Plus, Dallas is winning games with a backup quarterback. Then again, how much does he love Mike McCarthy?
In short, if Payton were to be traded by the Saints this offseason, it would need to be to a team with one of two things going for it: Residing in the AFC or possessing more than one first-round pick. Otherwise, it is just way too punitive to trade a future hall of fame head coach in-conference. The Houston Texas, the Detroit Lions and the Seattle Seahawks all have multiple first-round picks.
If we were to look at AFC teams who could be making a change at head coach, keep an eye on the Indianapolis Colts, the Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots. Things are not going well for Frank Reich in Indianapolis. The Chargers roster is loaded, but Brandon Staley is an issue. Bill Belichick could retire and that would mean the Patriots are about to enter a very rough patch.
So why does this potential trade come across as franchise-altering for the Saints? Well, they would be getting a first-round pick back in what looks to be one of the best quarterback draft classes in years. New Orleans may not be in position to draft a C.J. Stroud, a Bryce Young or even a Will Levis, but they could combine both potential first-round picks into a package deal this spring.
Even if general manager Mickey Loomis thinks he can win games with a healthy Jameis Winston under center, the Saints could use this extra first-round pick coming from a theoretical Payton trade to bolster their pass rush or add an offensive weapon of note. Loomis has earned the benefit of the doubt to pick one Pro Bowl player after another with his Saints’ first-round draft selections.
It all comes down to if Payton wants to coach again, but the Saints should listen to all trade offers.