With the Saints struggling out of the gate this season, and the roster seemingly in need of a rebuild, there has been plenty of speculation in recent weeks that head coach Sean Payton could leave New Orleans in the offseason. Payton attempted to quiet those rumors earlier this week, telling reporters that New Orleans is “where I see myself” going forward.
Still, the rumors have persisted, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com) reports that Payton would be “open to” listening to inquiries from other teams after the season. Rapoport and Rosenthal caution that those talks – if they even happen – may not go anywhere, but point out that it doesn’t sound like Payton has closed the door on the idea of leaving the Saints.
Payton remains under contract with New Orleans for two years beyond 2015, so if he wanted to explore other opportunities, the Saints would have to give him permission to do so. If Payton received a job offer from another club and wanted to take it, that suitor would likely have to work out some sort of compensation package with the Saints, who are unlikely to fire Payton or to simply let him walk.
Of course, we’re only five weeks into the 2015 season, and plenty could happen in the next few months that could change the outlook for the Saints and for Payton heading into the offseason. But Rapoport’s report is the latest in a series of similar stories this week — ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Sunday that multiple teams are expected to inquire on Payton at season’s end, and Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole added on Monday that Payton would be “intrigued” by the idea that a team like the Dolphins or Colts could pursue him.
Earlier today, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that many people around the NFL believe that Payton will be coaching the Dolphins next year, while Schefter and Chris Mortensen suggested that a trade involving the Saints head coach wouldn’t come as a huge shock.