This could be big. Multiple reports came out on Sunday afternoon stating that the Carolina Panthers have received permission from the New Orleans Saints to schedule an interview with former Saints head coach Sean Payton concerning their own coaching vacancy — adding serious intrigue to Payton’s exodus given Carolina is an NFC South divisional rival. And the Panthers have a stockpile of draft picks including multiple picks in the second and fourth rounds of this year’s draft, plus the No. 9 overall pick in the first round.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said this week that while no specific trade packages have been agreed on in granting interview requests with the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, and Houston Texans, there is a broad understanding of what New Orleans is seeking in compensation for Payton’s coaching rights. So the Panthers have a general idea of what the Saints would need to send Payton to a close rival they face twice each year. That’s likely to be much more costly than what the Saints would ask for in sending Payton to a team in another division or conference.
Now it’s on Carolina to convince Payton. His close friend Jay Glazer previously reported for FOX Sports that “it ain’t happening” should the Panthers take a swing at Payton, but owner David Tepper is trying it anyway. Tepper hasn’t exactly earned much goodwill around the league in abandoning a half-built training facility and replacing Bank of America Stadium’s grass playing-field with a cheap artificial turf surface, among other meddling moves, but if he’s willing to make Payton the NFL’s highest-paid head coach and make other generous concessions they might be able to cut a deal.