Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is reportedly eyeing teams for a potential return to the NFL next season.
Payton stepped down from his role as the head coach of the Saints after 16 years on the job. Payton led the organization to a Super Bowl 44 championship, three NFC Championship Game appearances and seven NFC South division titles.
According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers are two teams to keep an eye on in the Payton sweepstakes:
“Carolina, for example, would probably love a chance to throw a pile of money at Payton. But my sense is that he’ll be picky and will look for a spot where the QB situation is solid, first and foremost. That’s why I think a lot of people are connecting him with a potential Chargers opening. People would line up to coach Justin Herbert if that job came open. If not there, I’ve been told to watch Arizona as a potential Payton destination (again, assuming there’s an opening there).”
The Chargers and Cardinals definitely have comfortable quarterback situations with Justin Herbert and Kyler Murray, respectively. That said, unclear if either team would look at a potential coaching change after this season.
The Cardinals handed head coach Kliff Kingsbury a long-term extension that keeps him signed through 2027. The Chargers finished with a winning record (9-8) in their first season under Staley, and they’re still in playoff contention with a 5-5 record.
Of course, Arizona’s tendency to unravel in the second half under Kingsbury has been well-documented. After a promising 7-0 start last year, they dropped six of their final 10 games and were blown out by the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card Round.
At 4-7, the Cardinals will have to win out just to have a slight chance at making the playoffs, but even a 10-7 record may not be enough to qualify.
The Chargers were widely expected to compete for the AFC West after landing two All-Pro defensive players in Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson in the offseason. But the Bolts have been hit hard by the injury bug all season long, so it’s hard to blame Staley for the underwhelming performances.
The bottom line is that if Payton is indeed ready to return to the NFL for 2023, he’ll unquestionably be the top name available.