Sean Payton could be a free agent at the end of the season. The Eagles might very well be in the market for a head coach at the end of the year. Could Payton land in Philly?
There are some major hurdles to overcome.
First, there is still some haze around his contract situation.
Adam Schefter reported Sunday that the multi-year contract extension given to Payton in 2011 was voided by the NFL within the past year.
At issue in the contract was one specific clause that would have enabled Payton to walk away from the deal if general manager Mickey Loomis was suspended, fired or left the New Orleans organization, sources said.
The league believed that any such language in Payton’s contract would set a bad precedent for other coaching contracts and rejected the deal well before Loomis was suspended for the first eight games this season for his part in the bounty scandal.
Some in the league office believe Payton’s contract could toll — meaning the last year would be put on hold, tying him to New Orleans for the 2013 season — but there is no evidence to confirm that possibility.
If Payton is in fact out of his contract, the next question is: Does he want to leave New Orleans? The answer appears to be no. From Pro Football Talk:
Via Jay Glazer of FOX, Payton says he “absolutely plans” on returning to the Saints in 2013, despite his contractual status.
It is difficult to envision Payton walking away from the Saints right now. With everything that has happened over the past year, I doubt he is thinking of abandoning this team.
Let’s say all that changes. Would he want to come to Philadelphia? He broke into the NFL with the Eagles, serving as the quarterbacks coach from 1997-1998 before moving on to work for the Giants. His star really began to rise in Dallas, though, where he served as assistant head coach prior to being hired by the Saints in 2006. From Schefter:
Payton is expected to become the NFL’s most sought-after head coach after this season and there already is speculation in league circles that he could wind up returning to Dallas, where he worked as the assistant head coach from 2003 to 2005, during which time theDallas Cowboys brought in quarterback Tony Romo, who attended the same college, Eastern Illinois, as Payton.
The Eagles job may not be all that desirable given the quarterback situation. The Eagles have the option of walking away from Michael Vick‘s contract without taking too big of a financial hit at the end of the year. Whether it’s Vick or Nick Foles, is that enough to attract Payton? My understanding is that Steve Spagnuolo chose New Orleans over Philadelphia this offseason in part because of the Saints’ stability at quarterback — and this is a defensive coordinator we’re talking about. It matters, and I’m sure it matters to Payton. Walking away from Drew Brees to take over a team with a big question mark at quarterback is not good business.
Landing Payton is a longshot, in other words. But it’s definitely worth a try.
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