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Report: Kliff Kingsbury's Cardinals Future Unclear; Sean Payton Considering HC Job

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 8, 2023

ATLANTA, GA  JANUARY 01:  Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury prior to the start of the NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Atlanta Falcons on January 1st, 2023 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.  (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals are reportedly considering firing head coach Kliff Kingsbury at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported the Cardinals have been "preparing in recent weeks" to move on from Kingsbury, though no formal decision has been made on the coach's future. The franchise has reportedly conducted research on several potential candidates, including former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton.

It's unclear what level of interest Payton has in a potential Cardinals vacancy. He is already considered one of the leading candidates for the Denver Broncos job and has spoken to management.

FOX Sports: NFL @NFLonFOX

Yesterday, the Broncos reached out to the Saints to inquire about their former HC Sean Payton.<a href="https://twitter.com/SeanPayton?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SeanPayton</a> discusses the situation and his possible return to the NFL ⬇️ <a href="https://t.co/XDr7HADIUT">pic.twitter.com/XDr7HADIUT</a>

Arizona enters Sunday's season finale against the San Francisco 49ers at 4-12, a far cry from the team's 11-6 mark a year ago. Kingsbury received a contract extension through the 2027 season last March, which means the Cardinals would be paying out the next five seasons if they moved on.

Aside from the disappointing record, Kingsbury's relationship with quarterback Kyler Murray has also been strained throughout the 2022 campaign. Jeremy Fowler and Josh Weinfuss of ESPN reported the coach and quarterback have grown "increasingly distant" from one another.

It's unlikely that the relationship will improve much over this offseason with Murray recovering from a torn ACL suffered last month against the New England Patriots. While a formal timeline is yet to be determined, the odds of Murray being available for Week 1 of the 2022 season are low.

"We've talked with [owner Michael Bidwell]—I have—every day," Kingsbury told reporters of his job status. "And so, at this point, it's just about trying to win this game. So we haven't talked postseason, we haven't talked moves—anything like that. It's just about current issues and trying to win."

Kingsbury is 28-36-1 in his four seasons with the Cardinals. The franchise has finished .500 or worse in three of his four years. Arizona's decision to hire Kingsbury in 2019 came as a surprise at the time after he was fired by Texas Tech for posting three straight losing seasons.