One of the biggest storylines of the past several seasons was the rumor that Saints head coach Sean Payton could be on his way out of New Orleans, possibly via trade. Those rumors were immediately quieted when Payton signed a five-year extension this March that keeps him under club control through the 2020 campaign.
The Saints have shown flashes of improvement this year, but they now sit at 5-8 and are well out of the playoff picture. That reality, coupled with very public ownership issues and the sudden decline of Drew Brees over the past few weeks, has led to renewed trade rumors regarding Payton. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, citing league sources, the Saints would consider dealing Payton after the season, and they would not require especially hefty compensation to move him.
As La Canfora writes, “Moving Payton’s contract would free up about $40MM at a time when owner Tom Benson‘s health and the future of ownership is in question, and that money, along with the $25MM in cash/cap savings that would occur whenever Brees departs, would go a long way to providing an influx of means to rebuild this team.”
The 38-year-old Brees has one year left on his contract, but it could be difficult to work out another one-year extension given his recent struggles. After a terrific start to the 2016 campaign, Brees has thrown nine touchdowns to nine interceptions in New Orleans’ last five games, four of them losses. The franchise may feel that it is time to move on from their two former saviors, adding much-needed draft picks and cash flow in the process.
Despite the fact that the Saints have not posted a winning record since 2013, Payton’s stock as a head coach has not fallen very much, if at all. Any team that acquires him would rightfully view the move as a major success, particularly if, as La Canfora suggests, that team does not have to give up much to get him. The Colts, Rams, and Chargers are all possible landing spots for Payton, who is a California native and for whom a California coaching job could have particular appeal.
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