While the Saints thought they had locked up the 2010 Super Bowl-winning coach last year, language in the contract extension was questionable (due to a clause allowing Payton to leave if GM Mickey Loomis left the team) and never approved by the league office, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (via Peter King of Sports Illustrated).
Since Payton will be forced to sit out the remainder of the 2012 campaign, he only has rough plans to remain in New Orleans in the future, and could easily pack his bags and head to greener pastures for the right price.
Let’s take a look at a few of those potential destinations.
From 2003-2005, Payton served as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach for the Cowboys. It was his last stop before earning the head coaching gig of the Saints in 2006 and an area where his family currently resides.
It’s also a franchise that has the money to pay the kind of salary that a young, successful coach (Payton is only 48) commands in the NFL.
Owner Jerry Jones has proven time and time again that he’s willing to pay a tremendous cost to put a winning team on the field, even if that hasn’t been a successful formula in recent years.
Due to Payton’s ties to Dallas and Jones’ money, this is a highly likely destination for the coach in 2013.
Payton’s first ever NFL gig was as a quarterbacks coach in Philly during the 1997-1998 seasons.
While this likely won’t have any bearing on whether or not the coach decides to ink a contract with the Eagles, owner Jeff Lurie’s all-out pitch to Payton might include that little factoid.
Lurie would try hard to get him. It's a Lurie kind of move, trying to head off Dallas at the pass and take the kind of jump with a playoff-ready team that would give them a chance to break out of their recent malaise.
One deterrent could be the uncertainty of Michael Vick at quarterback in the City of Brotherly Love. It would be hard for Payton to win games going from an elite signal-caller like Drew Brees to a wildly inconsistent (although sometimes incredible) player like Vick.
There’s a small chance that Payton signs in Philly, but it would take Dallas and New Orleans botching their attempts to get him.
New Orleans Saints
Don’t sleep on the Saints retaining their head coach. He’s been a fixture for the franchise and someone that only they truly know the value of.
They went to give Payton an extension through the 2015 season and could easily be working right now to hammer out a new one with provisions that the league office will accept.
The coach is claiming that he wants to remain in New Orleans and seems sincere about it. He told FOX Sports:
This is the franchise I helped rebuild from the ground up with (general manager) Mickey Loomis, with the Benson family. I love working for the Benson family and with Mickey Loomis. Obviously that's why that stipulation was in the contract.
Considering his history and this statement, New Orleans is the most likely destination for Payton in 2013.
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