Eagles Wake-Up Call: Payton Deal First Chip To Fall

Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com reported Friday evening that the New Orleans Saints and Sean Payton have agreed in principle to a contract extension.

And just like that, the NFL’s hiring season had begun.

Payton leaving always seemed like a longshot, but it’s no coincidence that the news was announced just three days before teams around the league started firing their coaches. The Saints would have been making a huge mistake if they let Payton test the open market. The one team he had most often been linked to was the Cowboys. But Glazer also reports that Jason Garrett will be back in Dallas in 2013.

Meanwhile, there figures to be some serious competition and posturing next week as nearly one-third of the league’s jobs could potentially be up for grabs.

The rumors about who could potentially replace Andy Reid continue to swirl. Albert Breer of NFL Network hears that University of Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian could be an option for the Eagles. Sarkisian has spent the last four seasons as head coach of the Huskies. Prior to that, he was an assistant with USC for seven seasons and also spent one year (2004) as the quarterbacks coach of the Oakland Raiders.

One other name we’ve written about previously in this space is Penn State’s Bill O’Brien. While it seems unlikely that O’Brien will leave Happy Valley, the door is not shut completely. Adam Caplan reports that teams have begun research on O’Brien’s contract and buyout:

This situation may go nowhere, especially based on the buyout and how much money he’ll earn over the length of the contract. However, with the dearth of quality head-coaching candidates available, it wouldn’t be surprising if some teams showed interest in O’Brien over the next week or so.

Several names to keep an eye on, and likely several openings to be announced as soon as Monday.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Reid said he’s had no discussions with Jeffrey Lurie this week.

I felt like rambling yesterday, so the Week 17 cheat sheet offers 10 thoughts on the state of the Eagles.

The Birds’ assistant coaches also face an uncertain future, Tim writes.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

ESPN’s Adam Schefter offers his take on Reid:

Reid’s selection of assistant coaches contributed to his downfall. Philadelphia struggled to replace legendary defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, and when the Eagles attempted to do it with offensive line coach Juan Castillo, they created issues in other areas.

Yet with a record of 130-92-1, Reid goes down as a Philadelphia sports legend, as unappreciated as he was underrated. Reid, 54, wants to coach next season, and he undoubtedly will draw interest. But some around the league are hoping that Reid takes a year off to spend time with his family, recharge his battery, study the game and return with a passion in 2014.

One of the better national columns you’ll see on Reid, from SI.com’s Michael Rosenberg:

Reid has had 14 years to end this drought. He came achingly close. In 2005, the Eagles lost the Super Bowl to the Patriots by a field goal. Reid has taken the Eagles to five conference championship games. To understand how impressive that is, consider: Bill Belichick has made six conference championship games. Tony Dungy made three. If this were college basketball, we would say that Reid took the Eagles to five Final Fours.

And yet, Reid was never really enough for Philly. I don’t just mean his record, though lately that has not been enough. I mean him. Fans and reporters want Reid to reveal himself. They want visible passion on the sideline on Sundays and audible emotion in press conferences on Mondays. They want Rex Ryan. Or at least Buddy Ryan. Or Dick Vermeil.

COMING UP

No media availability as the Eagles make final preparations for Sunday’s game against the Giants.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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