Ever since Sean Payton took a sabbatical, media and fans have speculated about where he will coach when he returns to the sidelines.
NOLA.com columnist Jeff Duncan reports that if Payton decides to return after a year at Fox Sports, his home of 15 years could be the most realistic landing spot. Duncan reminds us that Payton remains under contract with the Saints through the 2024 season while noting:
One person close to Payton and familiar with his thinking believes a return to the Saints is possible “if things go sideways” in New Orleans. He went so far as to rank the Saints No. 1 on the list of teams Payton might coach in 2023 if he elects to return to coaching.
“If” is out the door, going 90 mph on Interstate 10. Things are sideways in New Orleans and the team needs to get back to a vertical climb. Of course, there’s a reason Payton decided to leave when he did. The team is on the brink of its first 10-loss season since 2005, which not-so-coincidentally was the season directly before Payton arrived in New Orleans.
A return may be contingent upon an upgrade at quarterback. Per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, a huge QB acquisition could be a possibility.
Florio recently discussed Payton’s appearance on Tom Brady’s “Let’s Go!” podcast. After co-host Jim Gray noted that Payton and Brady’s paths wouldn’t intersect at Fox Sports next season, Payton made a joke that suggested otherwise.
“Who says Tommy’s coming to Fox right away? Clearly, we don’t want to get another team in trouble,” said Payton after Gray’s observation.
Brady replied, “You never know what happens in the NFL. So, who knows? I thought I was retired, I wasn’t. Who knows? You never know what the future looks like.”
Payton is likely headed back to the NFL after a season as an in-studio analyst for Fox Sports. Brady signed a 10-year, $375 million contract with Fox before he decided to return to Tampa Bay for the 2021 season. Whether he decides to get into broadcasting or play again in 2023 remains to be seen.
Florio ended his piece by pointing out the lack of destinations where the two could join forces, saying, “Unless, of course, the Saints bring back Payton and then go sign Brady.”
New Orleans (4-9) is without its first-round draft pick and will likely be in the market for an upgrade at QB this offseason, through free agency or via trade. A deep QB class means the draft remains a possibility.
Dennis Allen is in his second stint as an NFL head coach and first season in New Orleans. He is 12-37 (.245) during his coaching career.
Payton broke the Saints’ hearts when he announced he was stepping away in January. Brady did the same on Monday when he put an end to dreams of an improbable New Orleans playoff run.
Could the two mend the franchise’s heart next season?