Publicly, the Dallas Cowboys have backed head coach Mike McCarthy since the team’s disappointing postseason exit, but there continue to be rumblings that owner Jerry Jones could consider making a major change at the head coaching position.
Former NFL general manager Michael Lombardi believes Jones would consider firing McCarthy if he had an opportunity to lure Saints head coach Sean Payton away from New Orleans.
“Now, there has always been a linkage between the Dallas Cowboys and Sean Payton,” Lombardi explained on the January 17 edition of The GM Shuffle podcast. “The Jones family loves Sean, Sean loves Dallas, Sean loves the Jones [family]. There’s a mutual, mutual love affair going on there. Can Sean get out of [his deal]? He has one year left on his contract with the New Orleans Saints. Can he get out of that? Is he allowed to get out of that? Could he just go walk over to Dallas?
“I don’t know, I’m not trying to spread rumors. I just know that there’s a lot of conversation that Sean might take a year off because it’s the last year of his deal. I don’t know if he wants another contract. He’s certainly entitled to one.
“He’s a legitimate coach who could really help fix that team. But would Jerry fire McCarthy if he had a chance to get it? I think this week will be very fascinating to see if Sean does in fact come back to New Orleans or decides to walk away or what happens and I think that could motivate Jerry into a decision.
Trading for him could prove risky as the Saints would push for compensation from the Cowboys.
It’s difficult to see Payton leaving New Orleans, but after Drew Brees retired, he truly has nothing left to prove. However, Jameis Winston showed signs before his injury that things are not over with the Saints and they could certainly run it back and do something special in 2022.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported that there continues to be a growing buzz about Payton’s future in New Orleans and added there is some speculation around the league that the legendary coach would push for a return to the Cowboys.
“Not sure I see Payton walking away from coaching — he loves it too much — but there’s definitely some buzz there that maybe he’s being courted on that side,” an NFL coordinator told Fowler. “Maybe he goes and does that and returns one day to coach the Cowboys or something.”
Payton was a Cowboys assistant from 2003 through 2005.