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Chances Sean Payton returns to NFL sidelines as head coach set at 50/50

Sean Payton

Nearly all season long, we’ve heard rumors about Sean Payton’s potential comeback, landing another NFL head coaching gig. Payton, who spent 15 seasons as the New Orleans Saints head coach from 2006-21, was out of the league in 2022, spending time with FOX Sports as a gameday analyst.

But now the 59-year-old head coach is reportedly looking to return to NFL sidelines during this hiring cycle. He’s already been linked to three of the five current head coaching vacancies, one in Arizona, Denver, and Houston.

Most anticipate Payton will land in one of the open positions, but a recent NFL insider pushed back against the idea being a sure thing.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Payton is currently being viewed as a “50/50” bet to take a coaching job this season. The alternative would be taking another year off and waiting to see which opportunities may emerge during the 2024 coaching hiring cycle.

With rumors linking Payton to the Dallas Cowboys thanks to his connections with team owner Jerry Jones, it’s possible he’s biding his time, waiting for what he views is the perfect opportunity. Other top landing spots for Payton have linked the California native to the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers’ positions, but barring Brandon Staley being let go after their embarrassing playoff loss, Payton may be on the outside looking in once again this offseason.

It should be noted that Payton has yet to officially interview anywhere, but that process could begin as soon as Tuesday. Each of the Broncos, Cardinals, and Texans has received permission from the Saints to speak with Payton, who is still under contract with New Orleans and would require a trade to make any agreement final.

Obviously, what Payton will choose remains up in the air. Yet, the chance to make what could be $20 million per season could be an offer too good to refuse for Payton.

Related: Ranking best NFL head coach openings in 2023