His departure ends a glorious era for the New Orleans Saints as Drew Brees retired last year.
During his time in New Orleans, the franchise turned from perennial losers to constant winners.
The Saints made the playoffs nine times and have nine postseason victories.
Sean Payton changed the entire perception of the Saints as a franchise. He deserves nothing but praise and gratitude from Saints fans. He has to do what’s best for him in his life. It was a great ride. Sad to see it end, (if it’s over) but thrilled that it happened. #whodat ⚜️
— stan verrett (@stanverrett) January 25, 2022
He also led the team to seven NFC South titles and has nine seasons of at least ten victories.
More importantly, he helped the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
While Payton is moving in from New Orleans, he’s not ruling out a return to coaching but doesn’t plan to be on the sidelines in 2022.
But to acquire his services, other teams must trade for him because he’s under contract until 2024.
Sean Payton is under contract through 2024 with the #Saints. If another team wanted to swoop it, they would need to compensate New Orleans. But that’s a conversation for next offseason. https://t.co/7v8gr8GW0c
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 25, 2022
Here are NFL franchises that should at least initiate a conversation with the Saints to get Payton.
3. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears moved on from Matt Nagy after four seasons, and Payton would be a fantastic replacement.
He can help Justin Fields develop while fixing Chicago’s offense.
But for the transfer to happen, the Saints and the Bears must engage in a blockbuster trade.
Aside from Payton, New Orleans must trade some players to address their egregious salary cap situation.
Louisiana native @Realrclark25 spoke on Sean Payton's impact in New Orleans:
"He's a hope-giver. … I think Sean Payton's legacy goes far beyond what he's meant to football in New Orleans." pic.twitter.com/nyZzARmWAv
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 25, 2022
The Bears have significant cap space to absorb the salaries of those players.
On the other hand, the Saints can save roughly $60 million with this trade alone.
2. New York Giants
The New York Giants haven’t had much success since their last Super Bowl title.
They’ve made the playoffs once and had seven losing seasons during the stretch.
Joe Judge is already out as head coach after two years, and the franchise is looking to rebuild.
Payton is the perfect man for the job because he transformed the Saints.
Sean Payton addressed what may be next in his career:
"I still have a vision for doing things in football, and I'll be honest with you, that might be coaching again at some point. I don't think it's this year … that's not where my heart is right now."
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 25, 2022
He may also help Daniel Jones take the next step, given that he’s a former quarterback himself.
Coaching for the Giants will also be a homecoming for Payton after serving as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2000 to 2002.
Payton also traces his coaching roots to Giants legend Bill Parcells.
1. Dallas Cowboys
After a disappointing finish to the Dallas Cowboys’ season, Mike McCarthy is on the hot seat.
His clock management blunders jeopardized the team’s chances, while coordinators Kellen Moore and Dan Quinn handled play-calling duties.
Dallas can elevate one of those coaches should they show McCarthy the door.
However, they can also take a shot at Payton, who has a home in Texas.
He also served as the team’s assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach from 2003 to 2005.
The Cowboys already have the right mix of players to bring them to the playoffs.
But having Payton on the sidelines may help them get over the hump and return to the Super Bowl.
His experience will help maintain the Cowboys’ high-powered offense even if they decide to move on from Amari Cooper.