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Sean Payton could land with one of two playoff teams, depending on performance

Sean Payton
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL coaching carousel has already begun to spin, with three current head coaching vacancies. Chances are, we’ll have a few more after Week 18’s regular season finale. Chief among the top candidates right now includes Sean Payton, who’s spent the past season away from the coaching sideline, working as a football analyst for FOX Sports.

But perhaps the worst-kept secret around the league is that Payton is looking to return to his old post as an NFL head coach, only it seems unlikely to come with the New Orleans Saints, who still hold his contract rights.

Instead, Payton figures to have the opportunity to nearly choose his favorite destination among the gigs that become available. While we only know of Carolina, Denver, and Indianapolis, chances are several more vacancies will open up. That could reportedly even include a couple of teams who have already clinched a postseason berth.

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Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers could become options for Sean Payton

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

According to Albert Breer of NFL.com, both the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Chargers could be Payton’s ideal coaching destination for a number of reasons. Payton and Cowboys team owner Jerry Jones have long had a strong rapport, dating back to when the coach was a member of the Dallas coaching staff from 2003-05.

Los Angeles could entice Payton, a California native, by giving the 59-year-old head coach a chance to coach close to home. Plus, the opportunity to join a franchise that currently boasts one of the best young quarterbacks in football with Justin Herbert, may be too good to pass up.

But that’s IF either gig even becomes available. Typically, teams who reach the postseason aren’t quick to make major changes. Yet, Breer reports that if either organization struggles in the playoffs, possibly with a quick, embarrassing exit, either head coach job could suddenly open up.

If so, expect Payton to have great interest in coaching either Dak Prescott or Herbert for the foreseeable future, trying to see if he can return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2018.

Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos have already received permission to interview Payton, but it won’t take place until Jan. 17, which is the day after the Wild Card round is over. With both the Cowboys and Chargers participating in the Wild Card weekend, Payton could already have a strong sense of whether his potential ‘dream gigs’ will become available before he even sits down with Denver.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk also indicated the Arizona Cardinals are expected to request permission to speak with Payton as well, the latest sign that the coach is set to be a popular person in the next few weeks.

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