It turned heads Tuesday when Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk cited a source who said it is the "worst-kept secret" in the NFL that Sean Payton will return to the New Orleans Saints if he is a head coach in 2023, but that may not be the case.
Jeff Duncan of Fox 8 New Orleans reported current Saints head coach Dennis Allen's job remains "safe" despite the speculation.
Nick Underhill of neworleans.football echoed those sentiments, reporting, "it would be a surprise if Dennis Allen is not Saints' coach next year.
Payton, who is currently an analyst for Fox, stepped down following the 2021 season, prompting the Saints to promote Allen from his defensive coordinator role.
Yet Adam Schefter reported Payton is "so interested in returning to coaching in the NFL that he's already putting together an all-star staff that includes former Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio as his potential defensive coordinator."
It is going to make headlines whenever Payton is even loosely connected to the Saints, as he won a Super Bowl and led the team to nine playoff appearances during a tenure that lasted from 2006 through 2021.
Yet Duncan noted general manager Mickey Loomis and owner Gayle Benson "like and respect Allen" and would be acting out of character if they fired the head coach after his first season at the position.
It would also be a costly move since he is in the first year of a four-year deal.
This year's Saints are just 6-9, but the playoffs remain a possibility because of how poorly the rest of the NFC South has played. The first-place Tampa Bay Buccaneers are just one game ahead with two games remaining.
New Orleans has won two in a row and closes its regular season with matchups against the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers.
Perhaps Allen can help put together a winning streak to end the campaign and make the playoffs, which would surely quiet some of the speculation about his job security.