Saints head coach Sean Payton reportedly has “sincere interest” in the Rams’ vacancy, and it appears the feeling is mutual. Los Angeles is likely to ask the Saints for their permission to speak with Payton during the upcoming week, reports Larry Holder of NOLA.com. Now, having just completed their third straight 7-9 season, the Saints would be open to trading Payton, a source told Holder.
If Saints general manager Mickey Loomis does deal Payton, it’s doubtful he’d seek a significant return. The Tom Benson-owned franchise would instead be content with freeing up the $40MM remaining on Payton’s contract. New Orleans hasn’t gotten bang for its buck from Payton lately, as it has missed the playoffs in four of the past five seasons.
Despite the Saints’ recent struggles, Payton’s tenure in the Big Easy has been a resounding success. The 53-year-old has led the team to a 94-65 record and five playoff berths in 10 seasons, and the crowning achievement during his run with the Saints is their Super Bowl victory to cap off the 2009 campaign. Of course, Payton also missed the 2012 season – in which New Orleans went 7-9 – after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended him for his role in the Bountygate scandal.
Going forward, Payton’s commitment to the Saints is clearly up in the air. The offensive guru refused to provide any useful answers Sunday to reporters who asked him about status, instead replying, “Next question.” He also met with Loomis after the Saints’ season-ending loss to the Falcons to discuss his future, according to Holder. It now seems that future could be in Los Angeles, which would represent a homecoming for the California native.
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