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Sean Payton’s future with the Saints becomes an issue

Following Jerry Jones' comments that he won't comment on head coach Mike McCarthy's job status, Mike Florio and Myles Simmons talk about the uncertain nature of this year's head coaching cycle.

The man who coined the phrase Sunday Splash! report is the topic of one all over again.

Saints coach Sean Payton, who went through a stretch of multiple seasons in which NFL pregame newshounds sniffed around (and reported about) the possibility of Payton leaving New Orleans, has not yet committed to remaining with the team in 2022, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.

Payton has three years left on his contract.

Unnamed sources tell Rapoport it’s “unlikely” that Payton would coach another team in 2022. Instead, it would be (per Rapoport) a “mini-retirement” after an “incredibly challenging and difficult” season.

If Payton would resurface in 2023, the Saints would be entitled to compensation -- the same way the Cardinals were when Bruce Arians unretired after one year and went to the Buccaneers. (The Cardinals, who weren’t exactly upset Arians retired and may have nudged him, ultimately got a sixth-round pick from the Bucs, and sent back a seventh. Payton would surely get much more than that for the Saints.)

Despite the characterization from Rapoport that it’s “unlikely” Payton would coach elsewhere in 2022, he still could. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, for example, could decide that Mike McCarthy has taken the franchise as far as he can, and that the only way to get to the next level would be to land one of the handful of great NFL coaches.

Jones nearly got Payton a few years ago. It came far closer to happening than anyone realizes. The full story is shared in a certain book that will be released on March 15. The reason why it didn’t happen will indeed blow your mind.

I know you’re thinking, “He’s just trying to sell books.” And you’re absolutely right. But the reason will still blow your mind.

We’ll address in a separate post whether Jones would indeed try to upgrade over McCarthy, whether by acquiring Payton or someone else, and how it would work. For now, the point is that, even if Payton doesn’t end up joining the Cowboys, he could be leaving the Saints -- 16 years after he arrived.

And if it’s not true, if Payton will indeed be back in 2022, look for him to not be bashful about calling out the latest waves from a Sunday Splash!, whether on Twitter or elsewhere.