Speculation on Sean Payton’s future has dominated the New Orleans Saints news cycle this week, and it’s easy to see why: he’s on the move in what could be the first NFL head coach trade in years, potentially bringing back the biggest haul in a generation. At least three teams have already scheduled interviews with the Super Bowl-winning head coach, who stepped down from his post last season, and more could follow depending on the results of this weekend’s NFL playoff games.
So what’s the problem? These coach trades are few and far between in the NFL, and they rarely bring back a big return. Fans will point to the landmark Jon Gruden trade back in 2002 as an example of what the Saints should be demanding, but that deal was an outlier at the time and over the years since — of the two coach trades completed in the 20 years that followed, nothing was exchanged greater than a fourth-round draft pick.
We know that the Saints are seeking at least a first rounder with some additional assets thrown in, but they don’t have a lot of leverage here since Payton can pick his job and force New Orleans to take what they can get. So they’re hoping to settle for a fair deal rather than push the envelope in hopes of getting the best deal possible.
So what kind of historical context are we working with here? We’ve got some really nice insight from Jon Heath over at Broncos Wire, which you can find here, but let’s summarize it:
Don Shula (1970)
(Dick Raphael-USA TODAY Sports)
Shula was traded from the Baltimore Colts to the Miami Dolphins for a first-round draft pick.
Bill Parcells (1997)
(USA TODAY Sports)
Parcells was traded from the New England Patriots to the New York Jets in exchange for first-, second-, third-, and fourth-round picks over a two-year stretch.
Mike Holmgren (1999)
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Holmgren was traded from the Green Bay Packers to the Seattle Seahawks for a second round pick.
Bill Belichick (2000)
(AP Photo/John T. Greilick)
Belichick was traded from the Jets to the Patriots for first-, fourth-, and fifth-round draft picks.
Jon Gruden (2002)
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Gruden was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million in cash.
Herm Edwards (2006)
(Byron Hetzler-USA TODAY Sports)
Edwards was traded from the Jets to the Kansas City Chiefs for a fourth-round pick.
Bruce Arians (2019)
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aroams was traded from the Arizona Cardinals with a seventh-round pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
Almost traded: Jim Harbaugh (2014)
(Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports)
Harbaugh was nearly traded for two picks in the third round, per Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer, but he chose to return to his alma mater and coach the Michigan Wolverines instead.