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Sean Payton might be done in New Orleans, could set up an offseason of Dallas Cowboys speculation

Could the Cowboys pursue Sean Payton for head coach?

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It has been one week since the season ended for the Dallas Cowboys and not much has happened to make it all feel better. Saturday night brought with it a playoff loss for the Green Bay Packers which made some Cowboys fans smile, but the sting of our own team losing has yet to even partly fade. What feels a little bit more particularly depressing right now is that it is hard to see how any legitimate changes will be made by Cowboys brass this offseason.

There is, of course, one specific change that many fans would like to see and that is at the head coach position. While it has only been two seasons of The Mike McCarthy Project (as in his tenure, not the PR campaign he launched when trying to re-enter the NFL), there are some who feel like we have seen the ceiling and that Dallas needs to get out and improve if they want to win a Super Bowl anytime soon.

Whenever you bring this up the obvious retort is a question as to who the Cowboys would bring in if they did swap out McCarthy. Until now, all options seemed rather lukewarm, but a steaming hot one may have just presented itself.

Sean Payton might be done in New Orleans which could set up an offseason of Dallas Cowboys speculation

Death, taxes, a star safety being traded to the Dallas Cowboys, and Sean Payton somehow winding up as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. These are the narratives that have fueled many a Cowboys offseason for the 21st century.

Payton of course is a Cowboys alum having worked on Bill Parcells’ staff about 20 years ago (time flies). He became the head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 2006 and has since put together a career that might one day find him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Despite how much he has done in New Orleans, there is usually some bit of Payton-to-Dallas smoke that arises every offseason. It popped up again this year before the Divisional Round was even over as NFL Network reported that Payton might be done in New Orleans and that he specifically might be done as of now:

Sources say that Payton, who has three years left on his contract, has not committed to returning to coach for another season in New Orleans. He has not yet informed the organization for whom he’s coached since 2006 that he will definitely return.

...

It would be highly unlikely for Payton to coach another team in 2022, sources say. Rather, this would be a mini-retirement to recharge for a year after a season several people close to him described as incredibly challenging and difficult.

In this scenario, the Payton era likely would be over in New Orleans. If he were to return to coaching, it’s expected it would be with another organization, sources say.

...

One of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, Payton is under contract through the 2024 season. Him walking away from at least $45 million is hard to fathom, but it has not been ruled out, sources say.

Prior to the end of the 2021 season, sources say Payton was approached by at least one TV network about working in media, and that appears to be a possibility, as well.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is mentioned as a possible template for how this Payton saga could go. Arians retired after serving as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, also went to work in television, and ultimately returned to coach the Bucs. For what it’s worth, Tampa did have to send Arizona a sixth-round pick in exchange for Arians (and a seventh-rounder) so any scenario where Payton is coaching the Cowboys would likely involve some sort of swap as well, and probably a higher draft pick than that.

Sean Payton is only 58 years old and his personal connections to the Dallas-Forth Worth area are well known. It obviously makes sense for him to want to head to DFW professionally and returning to the Cowboys would be quite the chapter in his career. He has done a remarkable job with the Saints for over 15 years now, perhaps he would feel like this is the necessary challenge for him in the way that others have in the past.

As far as the Cowboys themselves are concerned, a shift in head coach towards Sean Payton might be the only thing that could provide legitimate juice to this offseason. Without any seismic activity of the sort it will feel like the Cowboys are content just running things back the way they were this past season when they obviously weren’t good enough. Making a move like this would signal being far more all-in, a mentality that we have all wanted to see for some time now.

There is also the potential of this all being a real conversation, but one that is just a year too early. If Payton follows the Arians’ path and sits out for a year then perhaps Dallas does run it back with McCarthy, potentially sees not-so-favorable results, moves on from him in 2023, and brings in Payton then.

Let the speculation begin.

Poll

Assuming it were possible would you want to see the Dallas Cowboys move on from Mike McCarthy in favor of Sean Payton?

This poll is closed

  • 93%
    Yes
    (3176 votes)
  • 6%
    No
    (227 votes)
3403 votes total Vote Now