Long-time Saints coach Sean Payton isn’t coaching this year. It’s widely believed he’ll be back next year.
Speaking to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, Payton did nothing to push back on the idea of an eventual return.
“Ultimately, do I think I’ll get back in? Sure,” Payton told Bell.
“There’s no way to predict who that club might be,” Payton said. “Usually, there are about six openings every year. If there’s a right fit somewhere, that ultimately will depend on several factors.”
A recent report from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, citing an unnamed source close to Payton, floated the Cowboys, Dolphins, and Chargers “among others” as potential destinations for Payton in 2023. The report listed the biggest of Payton’s “several” factors: (1) warm weather; (2) competitive roster; and (3) full control over personnel.
“We’ll deal with it when the time comes,” Payton said regarding a return to coaching.
As Payton said, there are roughly six openings every year. The carousel officially starts to spin when the firings are made. Unofficially, however, owners begin lining up their options before releasing the bird in the hand, requirements of the Rooney Rule be damned.
Thus, there will be plenty of things happening behind the scenes that (ideally for Payton and his potential next team) we won’t know about. In January 2019, things were happening behind the scenes that nearly resulted in Payton becoming coach of the Cowboys. In January 2022, things were happening behind the scenes that nearly resulted in Payton becoming coach of the Dolphins.
It’s crystal clear that Payton is in play for 2023. Owners who may be thinking about making a change that consists of firing the current coach and hiring Payton will have reason to make things happen behind the scenes that will result in Payton becoming the head coach in January 2023.