History of NFL head coach trades as potential Sean Payton deal looms

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A look at past NFL coach trades as potential Sean Payton deal looms originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

We could see a very unique trade in the coming weeks.

After one season away from coaching, Sean Payton could be on the verge of making his return to the NFL.

The Super Bowl 44 champion has already interviewed with the Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Houston Texans for their head-coaching vacancies. He’s also reportedly scheduled to meet with the Arizona Cardinals in addition to sitting down with the Broncos for a second time.

While Payton is a strong candidate, bringing him aboard won’t be as simple as a typical head coach hire. That’s because the 59-year-old is still under contract with the Saints through 2024 after stepping down at the end of the 2021 season, and New Orleans doesn’t plan to simply let him walk to a new team.

Earlier this month, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said interested teams were “well aware” that it was going to require trade compensation to hire Payton.

“We haven’t settled on exactly what the compensation is going to be yet, but they’re well aware that there is going to be compensation,” Loomis said.

So what could a Sean Payton trade look like? Ahead of a potential deal, here’s a look at the history of trades involving NFL head coaches.

Has an NFL head coach ever been traded?

Payton would not be the first NFL head coach to be traded.

Which NFL head coaches have been traded?

The exact number of head coach trades in NFL history is unclear. But there have been six deals involving big-name head coaches over the last 25-plus years.

Since 1997, Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren, Bill Belichick, Jon Gruden, Herm Edwards and Bruce Arians have changed teams via trade. The compensation it took to acquire them ranged from one late-round draft pick to multiple early-round picks along with cash:

Bill Parcells, 1997, from Patriots to Jets: First-round pick, second-round pick, third-round pick, fourth-round pick, $300,0000

Mike Holmgren, 1999, from Packers to Seahawks: Second-round pick

Bill Belichick, 2000, from Jets to Patriots: First-round pick, fourth-round pick, seventh-round pick (Pats also got a fifth-rounder and seventh-rounder)

Jon Gruden, 2002, from Raiders to Buccaneers: Two first-round picks, two second-round picks, $8 million

Herm Edwards, 2006, from Jets to Chiefs: Fourth-round pick

Bruce Arians, 2019, from Cardinals to Buccaneers: Sixth-round pick (Bucs also got a seventh-rounder)

Three of the six trades resulted in at least one Super Bowl for the acquiring team. Belichick has won six Lombardi Trophies with the Patriots, while Gruden and Arians each won one with the Bucs.

Holmgren, meanwhile, took the Seahawks to one Super Bowl.

Parcells stepped down following a 29-19 run over three seasons as the Jets’ head coach and Edwards was fired by the Chiefs after going 15-33 over three seasons.

What will it cost to trade for Sean Payton?

During a recent appearance on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” Payton said he thinks it would cost a mid-to-late first-round pick to acquire him from New Orleans.

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It wouldn’t be surprising if the Saints were after a first-round pick in this year’s draft as they don’t currently own one. New Orleans shipped its 2023 first-rounder (No. 10 overall) to the Philadelphia Eagles in a trade ahead of last year’s draft.

The question is whether New Orleans is seeking more than just a first-round pick, and whether any team would be willing to meet their price.

Here’s a look at the 2023 first- and second-round picks that each of Payton’s four potential suitors has:

Broncos: No. 29-32 (49ers' first-round pick)

Cardinals: No. 3, No. 35

Panthers: No. 9, No. 40, No. 62

Texans: No. 2, No. 12, No. 34