With ESPN's Adam Schefter reporting that Sean Payton is now slated to become a head-coaching free agent following the season, there's at least a faint possibility that Payton hits the open market. And with the Philadelphia Eagles struggling, there's at least a faint chance that Payton winds up replacing Andy Reid in Philadelphia.
However, there are several obstacles separating the 2009 Super Bowl champion from the City of Brotherly Love.
1. Payton appears to be extremely likely to return to New Orleans.
Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reports, via Pro Football Talk, that Payton plans on returning to the Saints, assuming the team wants him back. And sources also tell PFT that the Saints' front office is committed to Payton.
That said, crazier things have happened. We don't know for sure that Mickey Loomis will be back as the general manager, and we don't know what's going to happen between now and the end of the year. Could the Saints try to low-ball Payton, forcing him test the free-agent waters? Could another team make him an offer he can't refuse?
The point is that the door is open, but only a crack.
For starters, Payton could have an obvious path back to Dallas, where Jason Garrett's future is cloudy as the Cowboys toil away at 3-5. If Jerry Jones wants to do something dramatic (and doesn't he always?), then firing Garrett and replacing him with the man who coached quarterbacks in Dallas between 2003 and 2005 would fit the bill.
Speaking of quarterbacks, the Eagles might enter the offseason without one. With Michael Vick struggling and due a hefty amount of non-guaranteed money after the season, there's a very good chance that if Reid goes, so does Vick.
Will Payton really want to join a team led by a novice like Nick Foles?
Who will coach the Eagles in 2013?
I know, there was that ultimatum in August, and owner Jeffrey Lurie does appear to be losing patience quickly, but even if the Eagles fall short of the playoffs again, there's no guarantee Lurie fires Reid. After all, no owner in football has been as devoutly committed to a head coach in recent years than Lurie has been to Reid.
When a guy's been coaching in one spot for 13 years and hasn't won a championship, we'd be silly to make assumptions regarding his demise.