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Could Sean Payton, Tom Brady join forces in Carolina?

Mike Florio and Chris Simms explore why a mid-to-late first-round pick is a small price to pay for a team to scoop up Sean Payton as head coach for next season.

A year ago, no one knew that Saints coach Sean Payton and Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady were trying to join forces with the Dolphins. Eventually, word got out and the shit hit the fan and yada yada yada the Dolphins don’t have a first-round pick in 2023.

Now, with Brady poised to become a free agent in March and Payton currently drawing the interest of multiple teams, could Brady and Payton land on the same team next season?

Four teams are interested in Payton -- the Broncos, Cardinals, Texans, and Panthers. The first two have quarterbacks under massive contracts. The Texans need a lot more than Brady to become competitive.

Enter the Panthers. The last to officially join the Payton chase, Carolina has a very good defense, very good receivers, a solid running game, and an offensive line good enough to make it all go.

They also have an owner who has been desperate for a great coach and a franchise quarterback. Even though Brady would be a short-term option, he’d fill the stadium and create a ton of excitement.

Also, the NFC South currently is, to put it simply, not good. The Panthers would instantly become the favorites to win the division. They could fatten up their record enough to become one of the top seeds, especially with the schedule rotation having them face the teams of the AFC South and NFC North in 2023.

A Payton-Brady duo (Payton joked last month on Brady’s podcast about the possibility) would also send a massive middle finger to 345 Park Avenue. In 2012, the league suspended Payton for a season over trumped-up bounty charges. Six years ago, the league suspended Brady for four games over trumped-up air pressure charges. And with their attempt to partner up costing Miami a first-round pick in 2022, finally making it happen would surely create consternation and chagrin at league headquarters.

It makes plenty of sense, and it’s hiding in plain sight. We’ll find out in the coming weeks whether it happens.