Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reached the pinnacle of his illustrious career in 2022 after inspiring a poorly reviewed Netflix movie starring Paul Blart’s Kevin James. Payton decided to go out on top after going 9-8 and missing the playoffs, retiring after an illustrious career where he took one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history to one Super Bowl (that season resulted in multiple suspensions, penalties and fines due to a long-standing bounty program where opposing players were intentionally injured for a competitive advantage).
Payton joined Fox Sports as an announcer and the results were about as good as the $40 million deal signed by Taysom Hill. Luckily, Payton left his team in a great place: with no quarterbacks, a disaster cap and what appears to be a sub-par coaching staff.
Amazingly, one year after being a dead fish on air was enough: his true passion of collecting $20 million per year brought him back to the game.
Payton was expected by some to be the top candidate entering this offseason. Still under contract with the Saints, a prospective team needed to both pay Payton and send compensation to the Saints. Of course, that is the price for the top candidate out there.
But like any good Kevin James movie, conflict was just around the corner. In the same way Paul Blart was pulled into a nacho eating contest at West Orange Pavilion Mall, mistakenly eating spicy jalapenos, only to cool the spice with what he thought was lemonade but was actually margaritas, only to then drunkenly fall through a window, Payton has feebly fallen through a window of disinterest.
Per multiple recent reports, things are drying up for Payton like Saints’ cooperation in an NFL investigation.
Obviously, team owners must be wondering if Payton is worth his requested his rumored $20 million a year, on top of the rumored 1st round pick. Or if his one and only year of success way back in 2009, forever tainted due to cheating, is enough to require top dollar in 2023? The foregoing includes when Payton failed to win it all when he coached his child’s football team during his suspension year.
Most interesting is we’ve been forced to listen to rumors Payton and the Cowboys have been trying to reunite for a decade. Dallas has an opportunity to grab Payton and don’t seem to have any interest.
Owners must agree as he’s still searching for a second interview.
While we don’t wish any particular bad thing to happen to Sean Payton, as he is out of the NFC South, his lack of interest does impact the Falcons: the Saints don’t seem likely to land a top draft pick for trading Payton’s contract.
That is particularly harmful to the Saints, a team stuck in the logjam of mediocre at 7-10 in the NFC South, as New Orleans does not have a first-round pick. One may wonder if the Saints were expecting draft compensation for Payton and traded up for Chris Olave.
That’d be a real shame if so.
For the moment, it looks likely that Payton remains an announcer and the Saints don’t draft until the the 40th overall pick.