Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton stepped away for the 2022 NFL season to recharge before making a potential return to the sideline. With teams beginning to fire head coaches, Payton is reportedly keeping a close eye on his options.
Immediately after Payton stepped down, multiple NFL teams inquired with him about making an immediate return. The interest in Payton played a part in the Miami Dolphins’ punishment for tampering, as the team pursued a combo of Payton and Tom Brady.
Ultimately, the former Saints’ head coach turned down all inquiries and accepted a position with Fox Sports. After getting an opportunity to watch multiple teams and meet with different players, it appears two clubs are squarely on Payton’s radar.
Related: Sean Payton expected to receive massive salary upon return
According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler, Payton is targeting both the Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals as potential landing spots. While both teams currently have head coaches, there is uncertainty for both Brandon Staley and Kliff Kingsbury.
- Sean Payton coaching record: 152-89 in the regular season, 9-8 in the postseason
Payton is looking for the right situation in order to return, While the Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts both have vacancies at head coach, the absence of a franchise-caliber quarterback likely takes them out of the running.
Furthermore, per ESPN, even teams in a position to draft either Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud might not have a shot at Payton. One of the best play-callers in NFL history wants to land with an organization that already has a proven quarterback he can work with.
The presence of Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray provides the Chargers and Cardinals with a significant advantage in the bidding war to land Payton. It will be a competitive field, with multiple factors shaping who hires the future Hall of Fame coach.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Saints still hold the contractual rights to Payton. As a result, New Orleans is expected to want a 2023 first-round pick in exchange for its former head coach. Once the trade compensation is agreed to, the acquiring team will need to negotiate a new contract with Payton.
Related: Sean Payton ‘really wants’ to coach one specific NFL team
Unsurprisingly, the Dallas Cowboys remain a team to watch this offseason. If the Cowboys fail to reach the NFC Championship Game, owner Jerry Jones is likely going to fire Mike McCarthy. At that point, the Cowboys could pull off a trade that they’ve previously tried for on multiple occasions.