There is no doubt that until Sean Payton completely shuts the door on a return to coaching in the NFL, he will continue to be one of the most discussed candidates “on the market.”
His situation is a bit more complex than the average coaching candidate, considering he’s still under contract with the New Orleans Saints. But if one were to rank the top NFL head coaches including Payton, many would have him close to the top.
Sean Payton’s Coaching History
Payton was a head coach in the NFL for 15 years before announcing he was stepping down, each with the Saints. But he had an extensive coaching résumé before becoming a head coach, something that’s becoming rarer by the season as coaches keep getting younger.
From 1988-1996, he spent time working his way through the college ranks. He worked as an offensive assistant for the first two seasons at San Diego State. He became a running backs and receivers coach at Indiana State for the two seasons after that before heading back to San Diego State as the running backs coach. Payton became the offensive coordinator at Miami (Ohio) from 1994-1995, then spent a season as Illinois quarterbacks coach in 1996.
That’s a proper start to a coaching career, bouncing back and forth, working up the ladder while networking one’s tail off. Payton, a former quarterback himself, finally got a job coaching quarterbacks at the NFL level for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1997 under Ray Rhodes. Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, and David Shaw were all part of that offensive staff.
He moved on to the Giants in 1999 as their QB coach and subsequently as their offensive coordinator for the three following seasons under Jim Fassel.
Payton spent the next three seasons (2003-2005) in Dallas under Bill Parcells. Jerry Jones has viewed Payton as “the one that got away,” which has led to a nauseating amount of rumors linking Payton to a Cowboys job that is unavailable.
Payton went 152-89 as the Saints’ head coach. Aside from an ugly stretch from 2014-2016 where New Orleans could only manage seven wins in each campaign, the Saints were habitual double-digit winners. He’s posted a 9-8 playoff record over those 15 seasons.
Potential Salary and Trade Compensation for Sean Payton
Payton reportedly made just under $10 million per season with the Saints. Per ESPN’s Ed Werder on March 23, 2016, Payton agreed to a five-year extension worth slightly more than $45 million. That deal was to keep him through the 2023 season.
Reports over the summer stated that the Dolphins reportedly had a $100 million offer ready for the head coach on a five-year deal. There’s no doubt New Orleans, who do not have a first-round pick in 2023, would love to see Payton return to coaching so they can recoup some premium draft capital.
Payton would undoubtedly command at least one first-round pick. A deal would most likely require a package of picks that either includes multiple firsts or a combination of a first and multiple Day 2 picks.
Teams Sean Payton Might Consider
Payton was born in San Mateo, California, but went to high school in Illinois and college at Eastern Illinois. But the 59-year-old doesn’t want to deal with harsh winters anymore, and can anyone blame him? He spent 15 years on the southern coast of America and wants a warm-weather climate.
From a situational perspective, the Los Angeles Chargers make the most sense, aside from Payton possibly keeping Joe Lombardi around as the offensive coordinator (which would probably make Chargers fans physically ill).
However, the Chargers aren’t really the type of organization that would spend the excess draft capital and pay the head coach the highest salary ever awarded to a head coach. But they have the QB, the weather, and a decent team surrounding it all.
Many tagged the Rams because of their star power and more gung-ho nature, but that roster has disintegrated from the Super Bowl-winning squad — and there’s no chance Payton would return for a rebuild.
The Panthers have a sneaky-talented roster and a newer owner who might want to be aggressive and bring some notoriety to the building. Nonetheless, that pursuit would further prevent them from drafting their eventual franchise QB.