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NFL Rumors: Saints Believe Sean Payton Worth 1st Rounder, More Draft Picks in Trade

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 1, 2023

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - DECEMBER 02: Head coach Sean Payton of the  New Orleans Saints reacts against the Dallas Cowboys during a game at the the Caesars Superdome on December 02, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The New Orleans Saints are putting a high price tag on former head coach Sean Payton were he to take another job in the NFL.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday the team feels Payton "is worth what other great coaches have been valued at and then some."

Schefter noted the Oakland Raiders got two first-round picks, two second-rounders and $8 million from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in return for Jon Gruden in 2002. Draft compensation, including a first-rounder, was also attached to Bill Belichick's hiring by the New England Patriots in 2000 and Bill Parcells' arrival with the New York Jets three years earlier.

Jonathan Jones of CBSSports.com canvassed a few team executives and got a range of responses as to Payton's value in a swap.

One said a first-rounder is "unrealistic in my opinion," and another said they'd request a first-round pick but accept second- and fourth-rounders. However, one executive pointed to the Gruden deal as the bar for their demands.

Payton is the most prized target in the NFL coaching market. He had a 152-89 record in his 15 years with the Saints, leading the franchise to its first Super Bowl victory in 2009.

Chuck Harris @chuckh3

If Sean Payton wants to come to the Cardinals, you do what it takes to get him here.<br><br>152 wins. Super Bowl winner. Never a record worse than 7-9.<br><br>In 18 years as HC and OC:<br>15x top 10 offense<br>11x top 5<br>8x top 1-2<br>6Γ— 1st<br><br>You aren't getting a better resume from any other candidate

Per Schefter, Payton "is expected to command one of the league's richest head-coaching contracts."

The 59-year-old is unemployed in the league after stepping down following the 2021 season, but he isn't technically a free agent. In 2019, Payton signed an extension with New Orleans through 2024. As a result, the Saints retain his rights for two more years.

Between his contract and the compensation required to complete a trade, Payton might be one of the costliest coaching hires in NFL history. Based on recent history, the outlay could still be justified.

The Buccaneers were Super Bowl champions in Gruden's first year. The Jets reached the AFC title game in 1998 with Parcells. And Belichick established himself as arguably the greatest coach ever in New England.

No coach is ever guaranteed to succeed, but Payton represents the surest thing available. If you're a team with major aspirations for 2023 and beyond, shelling out for Payton's contract and coming to terms with the Saints is likely worth the overall expense.