It has been reported in several circles that Sean Payton can become a free agent at the end of the season
. There are several barriers that still have to be cleared for it to actually happen.
The Saints can negotiate after the suspension is up and submit a new extension to the league office. It is possible that the league may get into another battle with the Saints in court and the clause of the contract that brought everything into question may stand (doubtful, but still out here). The league took around six months to even tell the Saints that the contract was not good and an out clause tied to any suspension for GM Mickey Loomis was setting a bad precedent. Or, did they?
Despite plenty of questions out there that certainly need to be answered, it did not stop me from setting odds on which team will send bags full of money to the front door of the suspended coach and employ Sean Payton next season.
THE OBVIOUS LEADER
New Orleans Saints:
Let's not forget several things about why this needs to work for the Saints and they know their guy and the inner-workings of everything. It seems to me that the clause about Loomis can be construed of evidence that the Saints knew for a while that they were going to get the hammer from the bounty investigation. In an effort to be nice to the guy who made Drew Brees into the Louisiana icon he is and to say thanks to the coach who gave the town the Super Bowl, the Saints wrote in the clause. It only gives the option for Payton to opt out. Tom Benson is so desperate to keep Payton happy that Benson got permission to allow Sean to do odds and ends work for the New Orleans Hornets since he has been out of work, according to Peter King.
I'm wondering if it even would be a good idea for Payton to go anywhere. He is not being portrayed as the bad guy in Bountygate. Jonathan Vilma and Gregg Williams are. Drew Brees, a quarterback he already has cemented his reputation with, still will have four years left on his contract.
Besides, it has been the defense that has been the problem this year in New Orleans. The defense is on pace to be one of the worst of all-time in points and yards allowed. Drew Brees and the offense is averaging over 300 yards passing a game and are ranked in the top five in total yards per game. Payton can come back to the sidelines and re-vamp the defense and fire the defensive coordinator.
Finally, the Saints to sort of have "dibs" on him if the league finally does say that Payton is a free agent. They have already talked money and have 99.99% of a contract drawn up in acceptable terms for everybody.
WILL BE IN THE CONVERSATION
Yes, yes, everyone seems to agree on this. Jerry Jones would be happy to offer anything from his favorite bottle of wine
to a percentage of his oil futures to get Payton on the sidelines with him. Sean Payton and Jerry Jones play hop scotch with Tony Romo in the off-season. The suspended coach's family plans to live in the Dallas area. Also, Jerry Jones was locked out of the locker room
after another team performance riddled with key mistakes that cost them the game. Also, Payton already coached for the Cowboys from 2003-2005.
Jason Garrett may already be updating his resume and the Cowboys would love to make a big splash. The question is this: is Tony Romo still young enough to start with a clean slate? Obviously, Payton would know best from all those Scrabble games and rounds of golf. Tony Romo is playing like the type of guy who falls in love with a word and constantly leaves the triple word score open for his opponent.
ODDS: 5 to 1
The Eagles probably gave Michael Vick one one hundred million dollar contract too many and the Philly pass rush has been slowed down enough that it hasn't even been mildly disturbing for opponents' offensive lines. Andy Reid's voice may be getting old and the team sort of has the feel of one where a change of scenery for some would be welcome.
The enticing parts include the ability to work with a young quarterback in Nick Foles, familiarity with expectations due to being a QB coach for two years in Philadelphia and a talented receiving corps that may work well for him.
So, who is Nick Foles? Does he fit Sean Payton? Maybe. Foles has NFL size with his 6'5" and has a strong arm. He seems to play-fake well and can make all of the NFL throws; but like many young quarterbacks, he struggles against the blitz and can have issues with accuracy. It seems that Payton would have to be patient and be able to protect the young signal-caller. The suspect condition of the Eagles offensive line could be a major issue.
ODDS: 10 to 1
THE INTERESTING LONGSHOTS
New York Giants, New York Jets
The Giants? Yeah, what if Tom Coughlin decides he is tired of the whole thing and wants to retire? Wouldn't Sean Payton want to go to a team that he knows has the talent to be a contender? Why wouldn't New York be willing to pay up to continue their recent dominance in New York? The Giants have a great receiving corps full of young receivers, don't they? Heck, Payton coached in New York already. Think about it. Sean Payton has coached in New York, Dallas and Philly. He knows the NFC East and he knows three of the toughest markets in the NFL.
The Jets? What if Sean Payton turned around Mark Sanchez? What if he makes a run with them? Wouldn't that put Payton into Belichickian status around the league? What if he did it with Tebow? Would the world explode?
ODDS: Each are 40 to 1
THE FANS WISH IT COULD HAPPEN
San Diego Chargers:
While Rivers is interesting, I do not see a dysfunctional situation that has a team getting older to be the type of thing Sean Payton wants to get invloved in. ODDS: 100 to 1
Kansas City Chiefs:
Sean Payton becoming the Chiefs head coach would be the greatest thing to happen to the town since 1985. It would be bigger than getting Joe Montana. Wait? That actually happened? Well, what happened then? Oh. Well, that's what you get when you are the Cleveland west of the Mississippi. ODDS: 150 to 1
There's just not enough guys willing to line up to be a Raiders coach or player right now. Carson Palmer doesn't need to be reclaimed; he needs to be 8 years younger. ODDS: 200 to 1
Jake Locker is nice, young and athletic. The defensive talent is lacking and the team does not have the panache to draw someone like Payton. ODDS: 250 to 1
MAN, I HOPE THIS DOESN'T HAPPEN
I am not going completely morbid here. But, let's say that Pagano just can't continue coaching due to the toll of chemotherapy or something. Personally, I think this is a real longshot because I have every belief that Chuck Pagano is going to come back and be with this team for a long time. Also, Ariens would probably remain head coach. Still, the idea of Sean Payton coaching Andrew Luck is probably something unfair to the rest of the league.
ODDS: 10,000,000 to 1
I believe that Jimmy Haslam will be a great owner. I believe he will have Joe Banner telling him the proper places to throw money. Sean Payton would be one of those places. There is just one problem. The sports gods hate Cleveland.
ODDS: Play Powerball