Why Sean Payton Will Stay in New Orleans

Saints head coach Sean Payton is the subject of more speculation this morning. And it involves the Dallas Cowboys again. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the NFL voided the last year of Payton’s contract because of certain language that didn’t fly with the league, which could make Payton a free agent coach at the end of this season. The operative word is could because the league will have to determine if this season counts as a year toward Payton’s contract since he will end up being suspended for the majority of it.

While Schefter’s news has created a media firestorm on an otherwise lackluster NFL Sunday, I think it’ll end up being much ado about nothing. First, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett still has a job. He would need to be fired for there to even be an opening in Dallas. If Garrett takes the Cowboys to the playoffs (which he should), he will not be fired. Second, I don’t believe Payton would trade what he has in New Orleans for what he would have in Dallas. Third, I don’t believe Payton would go anywhere else and start over when he has Drew Brees, Darren Sproles and all their friends waiting for him.

Back to the Cowboys…

Brees for Tony Romo? No thanks.

General manager Mickey Loomis and owner Tom Benson for the always-meddlesome Cowboys owner Jerry Jones? No thanks.

A collection of team-first guys for a bunch of overpaid underachievers? No thanks.

Did I mention Drew Brees? Payton has arguably the best quarterback in the league at his disposal, a quarterback who has been in his system since 2006. Maybe I’m naive, but I have a hard time believing Payton would just walk away from everything in New Orleans after such a tumultuous year. Would he do that to Brees, Benson, Loomis, his coaches and the fans who have unequivocally stood by him through the entirety of the bounty scandal? If he did, he would be vilified in New Orleans forever, Super Bowl victory be damned.

Payton has built something great in New Orleans, despite the current lack of defense on his team. New Orleans is a better fit for Payton than Dallas. He’s loved here and has complete control over his football team. He wants another Super Bowl. He has a better chance to get to one with Brees than Romo. To paraphrase a quote, the quarterback you know is better than the quarterback you don’t.

As far as the NFL goes, it released this statement moments ago:

“Our office has made no determination on Sean Payton’s contract status with the Saints for next year,” the league told NFL Network’s Albert Breer. “All contracts between clubs and their employees must be approved by the Commissioner, and we do not comment on specific terms of individual contracts.”

What this could do for Payton is open the door for him to get paid by the Saints a lot sooner. If Payton ends up being a free agent at the end of this season, Tom Benson will have to roll the Brinks truck behind the gates on Airline Drive. There’s no way Benson lets Payton get away. He’ll make him the highest-paid coach in the league and Payton will look back on the suspension as the best thing that ever happened to him.

Sean Payton stays in New Orleans. Book it.


  1. Nice cogent analysis but as a lifelong Saints fan I remember the bad old days when everything that could go wrong did go wrong. So while your opinion piece makes perfect sense I will be nervous until Benson gets Peyton to sign on the dotted line and not have the NFL void the new contract. When did our Saints become a reality show/soap opera?

  2. Two lynch pins i you theory, 1. Sean Peyton has a history in Dallas and 2. he still owns a home there that he recently took off the market.

    • He had all those things when he signed the extension the NFL voided. No way he turns his back on the Saints organization after Benson stuck by him through the bounty scandal. Payton will be back and he’ll be motivated.

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