Sean Payton is a busy man. Nola.com’s Jeff Duncan reports that the former New Orleans Saints head coach interviewed with the Carolina Panthers on Monday, as was expected, before flying out for a Thursday meeting with Arizona Cardinals brass. Payton initially planned to slot his second Denver Broncos interview on Wednesday or Thursday, but the Broncos are still finalizing their own schedule with various candidates so this opened up a window for the Cardinals to fit him in.
It sure doesn’t seem like any of these teams view Payton as their top candidate, ahead of all others, which might make it less likely he’ll become one of the NFL’s highest-paid coaches. The longer this process takes to play out, could it become more likely Payton stays with FOX Sports? None of these jobs are perfect opportunities. If a team gets cold feet about meeting his contract demands, he could simply stay in the TV studio another year and reassess his opportunities in 2024.
That would be bad for the Saints. They desperately need to trade Payton for a first round pick in the 2023 draft after fumbling theirs away last offseason. If Payton stays out of football another year, it severely limits their options this year and hurts their leverage next offseason. With just one year left on their contract with Payton in 2024, the Saints would be pressured to accept lesser trade packages or risk losing Payton for nothing in the following cycle.
Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. These teams are clearly interested in Payton’s services right now, and these meetings are opportunities for him to stand out from the crowd as a proven Super Bowl winner. It’s best for New Orleans if he gets moved in the next week or two. Let’s see if that materializes.