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What are the possible destinations for Sean Payton’s return as a coach to the NFL?

Not a single game of football has been played since the top tier coach walked away from the game, but it seems like he’s already looking at coming back.

What are the possible destinations for Sean Payton’s return as a coach to the NFL?
Sean GardnerGetty Images

One of the league’s best coaches announced his retirement last year, but with reports suggesting it may be short lived, attention has now turned to his possible destinations should he actually return.

Dolphins, Chargers or Cowboys - Where could Sean Payton land?

According to a recent report, Sean Payton may be about to take a U-turn on his retirement from the NFL after announcing his departure from the game just last season. The former Saints head coach is said to be contemplating a return to the league for the 2023 season and with that, it now seems there are three potential teams that he could end up coaching. As per reports, the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, and Los Angeles Chargers are among the teams favored by Payton should the head coaching job become available. It’s also understood that Payton has made it clear that if/when he does come back, he’d prefer to do so in a warm climate with a competitive roster and above all else, control of personnel decisions.

The Miami Dolphins definitely wanted Sean Payton

It’s interesting to note, that the chatter about Payton joining the Dolphins existed long before they hired current head coach Mike McDaniel. Previously, rumors suggested that Miami intended to nick Payton from the Saints and then in turn put him alongside Tom Brady who was rumored to be looking at an ownership stake in the franchise as well as the role of a playing QB. Ultimately, it was reported that Miami never made a move due to their fears of tampering accusations after no permission was granted to open talks. On a point of interest, however, Payton was said to have been flattered by the interest.

What’s curious about the Dolphins/Payton scenario is that it could be said that the deal isn’t dead just yet. Logically speaking, if McDaniel fails to produce what the franchise hopes he will, it stands to reason that Payton could be acquired in the next offseason. It should be said that they’d still have to officially acquire him - the Saints hold Payton’s rights until 2024 - but the prospect of Payton and Brady working together is definitely one that would be special. That said, it remains unclear what Brady will do following this coming season as he will turn 45 next month and is set to become a free agent.

What about the Chargers and the Cowboys?

While Payton’s long-standing friendship with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seems to make the Cowboys a natural fit, the fact remains that Jones is also the team’s GM. Having a hands-on GM doesn’t seem to fit with Payton’s aforementioned desire to have full control, which means it’s likely to be a sticking point. This is of course before we consider the fact that there has been no indication that the Cowboys are ready to show Mike McCarthy the door.

Where the Chargers are concerned, there is no pretext, but on the other hand it would most definitely fit the bill in terms of his other two pre-requisites. The weather in California is most definitely warm and in the incredibly talented Justin Herbert, Payton will definitely find the means to be competitive. All of this, would understandably hinge on the idea that the Chargers would have to see a reason to let head coach Brandon Staley go. For the moment all we can do is take the words that Payton spoke at his send off at face value, whatever they mean. “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, but I think maybe in the future.”


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