The New Orleans Saints are in an utter state of disarray, much like the Dallas Cowboys. And after the latest news of Sean Payton‘s voided contract with the Saints, the successful head coach could be heading from one broken franchise to another.
The rumors about Payton’s defection to Dallas has often been referenced, but given the sort of success Payton had achieved in New Orleans, there
seemed to be no inkling of validity to such wild speculation. That is until now.
With no contract in place following the 2012 season, and a yearlong suspension keeping him from the sidelines until 2013, Payton’s days as the leader in New Orleans may be numbered. And old friend Jerry Jones could be the one luring him away from the flourishing franchise he’s built.
Payton’s relationship with Jones goes back nearly a decade, maybe more even, from the three seasons Payton spent as the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator from 2003-2005. That friendship and mutual respect holds an important weight in “decision 2013” for Payton, given the league doesn’t extend his contract from a suspended 2012 season into 2013. But there are other factors that could see Payton take his Super Bowl ring to Dallas. And the Cowboys could only be so lucky.
Beyond his connection to Jones, and his roots as a Cowboys assistant, Payton also has a strong relationship with current Dallas quarterback Tony Romo. And if Drew Brees wasn’t enough proof, the quarterback position is one that the offensive-minded Payton truly cherishes.
Payton was the one who convinced then head coach Bill Parcells of Romo’s exceptional ability as both a quarterback and leader. His prodding saw Romo finally get some playing time in 2005 and eventually win the starting job in Big D ahead of the 2006 season — Payton’s first in New Orleans.
What’s more, Payton still owns a home in Dallas and his children even attend school there. So, clearly he’s got a lot of love for the area and could feel compelled to return “home.”
One issue that has yet to be exhausted is that current Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett signed a three-year extension just last season. He’s obviously a fiery, young coach with a great depth of football knowledge. But given his knack for middling in mediocrity, going just 16-16 through his first 32 games as Cowboys head coach, and Jones’ loathing of anything resembling average, Garrett could be working his way right out the door.
Replace Garrett with Payton and the ‘Boys would not only resolve their coaching dilemma, but likely also repair a broken offense rolling along on what might be best described as flat tires.
As for Payton, the damage his reputation has endured through the Bountygate scandal has been brutal and may even be irreparable. But take him away from the Saints organization and put him in a more comfortable environment, and Payton could once again flourish and see his image returned to a more respectable place.
Leaving New Orleans in such turmoil may appear cowardice, while staying with what may be a sinking ship would obviously be the admirable action. But then again, from afar at least, Payton’s never seemed the admirable type. He’s a great football mind with the knowledge and understanding of how to achieve a high level of success in the NFL. To put it simply, he’s much smarter than he is proud.
So, while New Orleans would almost certainly suffer an even worse fate than the low rung where they currently reside, Payton could start fresh with as much of a clean slate as he’ll ever be afforded again.
Maybe Saints general manager Mickey Loomis can woo Payton and keep him in New Orleans after all. But all the facts seem to point to a Dallas reunion, one that both Payton and the Cowboys would undoubtedly enjoy.