The Colts have extended the contract of head coach Chuck Pagano, but not before looking elsewhere, and even talking to the representatives of Saints coach Sean Payton.
That’s the word from Tom James of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, who reports that the Colts were negotiating with Payton’s representatives while talks with Pagano were also taking place. Talks with Payton broke down, and that’s when Colts owner Jim Irsay decided to stick with Pagano.
There has been some talk that the Saints might be willing to let Payton out of his contract and let him leave for another team, in exchange for a draft pick. There’s no word on whether or not the Colts and Saints had worked out any type of agreement about the compensation the Saints would get if the Colts hired him.
If the Colts talked to Payton’s representatives without the Saints’ permission, that would be a violation of the league’s tampering rules. If the Saints did give Payton permission to negotiate with another team, that could create an awkward dynamic in New Orleans, where Payton would know that the Saints were open to letting him leave and the Saints would know that Payton was interested in talking to another team. It’s never a great sign for a coach’s future if he and his team have both openly looked at the possibilities of parting ways.
The Colts are now out of the coaching market, but Payton may still be in play. He’s a coach to watch for some of the other vacancies around the NFL.