It’s been a week since the season ended for the Dallas Cowboys and not much has happened to make things feel better. Saturday night brought a playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, which made some Cowboys fans smile, but the sting of our own team’s loss hasn’t gone some way yet. What feels a little more particularly depressing right now is that it’s hard to see how any legitimate changes will be made by the Cowboys brass this offseason.
There is, of course, one specific change that many fans would like to see and that is at the head coaching position. Although it’s only been two seasons of The Mike McCarthy Project (as in his tenure, not the PR campaign he launched trying to re-enter the NFL), some feel like we’ve seen the ceiling and that Dallas needs to come out and improve if they want to win a Super Bowl anytime soon.
Whenever you bring it up, the obvious answer is who the Cowboys would bring if they traded McCarthy. So far, all the options seemed pretty lukewarm, but maybe a boiling hot one just came along.
Sean Payton could be made to New Orleans, which could spark an offseason of Dallas Cowboys speculation
Death, taxes, a star safety traded to the Dallas Cowboys and Sean Payton somehow ending up as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. These are the narratives that have fueled many Cowboys offseasons in the 21st century.
Payton is of course a former Cowboys having worked for Bill Parcells staff around 20 years ago (time flies). He became the head coach of the New Orleans Saints in 2006 and has since built a career that could one day find him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Despite everything he’s done in New Orleans, there’s usually a bit of Payton smoke in Dallas that pops up every offseason. He reappeared this year before the Divisional Round even ended as NFL Network reported that Payton could be done in New Orleans and he could be done specifically from now on:
Sources say Payton, who has three years left on his contract, hasn’t committed to returning as coach for another season at New Orleans. He has yet to inform the organization he has coached for since 2006 that he will return permanently.
Payton would be highly unlikely to coach another team in 2022, sources say. It would rather be a mini-retreat to recharge for a year after a season that several close to him described as incredibly trying and difficult.
In this scenario, the Payton era would likely be over in New Orleans. If he were to return to training, it is expected to be with another organization, sources say.
One of the highest-paid coaches in the NFL, Payton is under contract through the 2024 season. It’s hard to fathom he’s walking away at least $45 million, but it hasn’t been. ruled out, sources say.
Before the end of the 2021 season, sources claim that Payton has been approached by at least one television network to work in the media, and that also seems to be a possibility.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians is mentioned as a possible role model for how this Payton saga could play out. Arians retired from head coaching for the Arizona Cardinals, also went to work in television, and eventually returned to coach the Bucs. For what it’s worth, Tampa had to send Arizona a sixth-round pick in exchange for Arians (and a seventh-rounder), so any scenario where Payton coaches the Cowboys would likely involve some sort of trade as well, and probably a higher draft than that.
Sean Payton is only 58 years old and his personal ties to the Dallas-Forth Worth area are well known. It obviously makes sense for him to want to head professionally to DFW and returning to the Cowboys would be a whole chapter in his career. He’s done a stellar job with the Saints for over 15 years now, maybe he would feel like it’s the necessary challenge for him like others have in the past.
As far as the Cowboys themselves go, a head coaching change to Sean Payton might be the only thing that could give legit juice to this offseason. Without any such seismic activity, it will feel like the Cowboys are just reverting things back to the way they were last season when they clearly weren’t good enough. Making a move like this would mean being a lot more all-in, a mentality we’ve all wanted to see for some time now.
There’s also the potential for this to all be a real conversation, but that’s just a year too early. If Payton goes the Arians way and sits out for a year, then maybe Dallas revives him with McCarthy, potentially sees not-so-favorable results, leaves him in 2023, and brings Payton in then.
Let the speculation begin.