Sean Payton rumors: Saints seeking ‘first-round pick and more’ as compensation for coaching hire


Any team that hires Sean Payton this winter will have to pay a heavy price.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Saints want “a first-round pick and more” as compensation from any team that hires Payton. 

Saints GM Mickey Loomis confirmed Friday that three teams — the Broncos, Cardinals and Texans — have been granted permission to interview Payton, adding that all teams have an understanding of what it will take to hire the Super Bowl-winning coach. 

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier in January that the Saints were seeking a first-round pick for Payton. The interest from Denver, Arizona and Houston even after that report may push the franchise to maximize its leverage and ask for even more.

Payton stepped down from his position after the 2021 season, but he remains under contract with the Saints. Interested teams must get permission from New Orleans to interview him. 

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Loomis also announced Friday that coach Dennis Allen will return next season, putting an end to speculation that Payton could return to the Saints.

The Broncos scheduled an in-person interview with Payton for Jan. 17 and were the first team to publicly express interest, but Rapoport said Wednesday that the possibility of Payton landing with the Cardinals is also “pretty legit.” 

History of NFL coaches traded for draft picks

Coaches aren’t necessarily “traded” in the NFL, but teams might ask for draft-pick compensation in certain situations – even if a coach has already resigned, like Payton did. 

While that scenario hasn’t been common recently, there have been a few similar transactions in the past.

The Buccaneers have the Raiders two first-round picks and two-second picks, along with cash, for the rights to Jon Gruden in 2002.

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Two years earlier, the Patriots sent the Jets a first-round pick for the rights to Bill Belichick. The Jets sent four draft picks to the Patriots three years earlier for the rights to Bill Parcells, who had resigned but was still under contract.

In 1999, the Seahawks sent a second-round pick to the Packers for the rights to Mike Holmgren.

These deals reinforce why teams might be willing to give the Saints a valuable draft pick for Payton. The Patriots won six Super Bowls under Belichick, while the Buccaneers won a Super Bowl in Gruden’s first season.

The Jets, meanwhile, were 4-28 in the two seasons before Parcells’ arrival and didn’t have a losing season under the veteran coach. The Seahawks reached a Super Bowl under Holmgren, who posted seven winning seasons in Seattle.

MORE: Sean Payton rumors: Former Saints coach has talked with Broncos ownership

The Broncos, Cardinals, and Texans undoubtedly believe Payton can get them to the NFL’s biggest stage if they’re willing to give up valuable assets to make him their head coach. 

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