We have inferred this much already, but it’s good to have it out in public. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that each of the teams meeting with Sean Payton are willing to trade a first round draft pick to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for the Super Bowl-winning head coach — the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans have each interviewed Payton already, while the Carolina Panthers rescheduled their sit-down following the tragic passing of Charlotte FC player Anton Walkes.
“My understanding is all of those teams would be willing to meet the asking-price of a first rounder and more, to compensate the Saints,” Rapoport said Saturday.
That’s not too surprising; the Saints owed it to themselves to verify as much before granting teams permission to speak with Payton. With that said, it’s reassuring to see that New Orleans done its due diligence to insure they’ll be well-compensated should Payton choose to coach a new team. And as Rapoport noted, a first rounder is the big piece to a trade, but the Saints will be seeking more draft assets to pad out a trade package.
What that may be depends on the team. The Broncos, for example, have a first rounder coming their way from the San Francisco 49ers which will be slotted as early as No. 25 or as late as No. 31 depending on where their playoff run ends (the Miami Dolphins forfeited a first-round pick this year, which means there are only 31 selections in the opening frame rather than the usual 32). The Texans own the No. 2 and 12 picks in the first round, whereas the Panthers control No. 9. Any of those first rounders would be the foundation for a Payton trade.
Of course this all hinges on Payton accepting one of those jobs. He could very well choose to remain at FOX Sports another year and look for a coaching gig again in 2024, should none of them appeal to him. Between meddling ownership, power-hungry front offices, and unsteady quarterback situations, each of the three potential landing-spots has warts. And as Rapoport added in his report, the NFL is waiting to see where Payton chooses to go (if anywhere) before head coach hirings around the league kick off. He’s the first big domino for the 2023 offseason.