Sean Payton Is Open To An NFL Return But His Current Contract Could Make It Costly For The Team That Hires Him

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Sean Payton has only been away from coaching for eight months after leading the Saints to a 9-8 record in 2021. The head coach spent 16 seasons in New Orleans, taking the franchise to a Super Bowl title in 2009.

He is widely considered one of the best offensive minds in pro football, but he opted to walk away from the game following the conclusion of last year.

Now, it seems he’s already itching to get back on the sidelines.

Payton was on a podcast with NewOrleans.Football and said he’d be open to a return to coaching in the “right situation.”

“If the right situation presented itself, I would definitely be interested. And there’s no utopia, if you will, when it comes to teams, but if I felt like it was the right situation, I would have an interest in that. That all being said, that could come in a year, that could come in two years.”

In retirement, Payton has been working as an NFL analyst for FOX Sports, but it seems that watching the Saints’ most recent game against the Bucs had him feeling a bit wistful about his time in the league.

“This past weekend’s game vs. Tampa was the first time I had a version of FOMO. I was jealous of everyone that was there, including random Bruce Arians on the sideline.”

While Payton may want to get back into coaching within the next year, there’s one small contract detail that could make teams hesitant.

Payton is still under contract with the Saints

While he retired following the 2021 campaign, Payton is under contract with New Orleans for the next couple of seasons. In 2019, the head coach signed an extension with the franchise that runs through 2024.

With that being said, anyone who hires the head coach prior to that date would have to give up a great deal of capital for the retired leader.

Per Front Office Sports writer Mike McCarthy:

“If another franchise does hire Payton, they would have to compensate the Saints since he’s under contract through 2024. The cost could be as high as a first- or second-round draft pick.”

That could deter NFL teams from taking the leap, at least until that contract finally runs out.

Fans react to potential Sean Payton return

Those contract details haven’t stopped fans and media from speculating on Payton’s next team. The head coach has been linked to the Panthers, an NFC South rival of his former team.

Carolina looks to be near the end of the Matt Rhule experiment with the coach posting a 10-25 record over his first 35 games. After watching Payton on the opposing sidelines for nearly two decades, it appears Panthers’ fans would take him in an instant.

Payton has also been linked to the Cowboys due to his relationship with owner Jerry Jones. Many have gone as far as to say he’s the “coach-in-waiting” for Dallas, though he’s done nothing to suggest that talks have occurred.

A few other teams have joked about adding Payton to the coaching staff following slow starts to the 2022 season, including the Broncos and Colts.

It will be interesting to see if Sean Payton does decide to return to the NFL. If he truly is ready for another coaching stint, a number of teams will certainly be interested.

Related: Sean Payton calls Patrick Mahomes the best QB he’s ever scouted