Well, for those of you that are holding out optimism that Sean Payton will return as the New Orleans Saints head coach, then look at the “half-full” glass again.
According to Tom James of the Terre Haute (Indiana) Tribune-Star who covers the Indianapolis Colts, the organization was indeed negotiating with Payton’s reps before the team ultimately signed current head coach Chuck Pagano to a 4-year extension.
The report has since been REFUTED by Payton’s representatives, according to Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate.
The Colts were one of the most “popular ” destinations if Payton were to land somewhere via a trade, due in large part to him being able to work with quarterback Andrew Luck — in a similar type of coach / QB dynamic to Drew Brees.
Two other spots that Payton has been said to possibly be headed to is the San Francisco 49ers or the New York Giants, with the Giants being one I mentioned on Sunday.
Payton was reported to be meeting with general manager Mickey Loomis yesterday to discuss the future direction of the franchise as well as his own future in New Orleans.
The tone shifted from absolute no doubts that Payton would be back prior to Sunday’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons, to utter “shoulder shrugs” (as in, nobody really knows) a day later.
Jan 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) greets head coach Sean Payton moments before their game winning field goal in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Saints won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Brees sounded almost more wishful than confident when asked if Payton would return to coach the Saints in his postgame press conference.
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Offensive tackle Zach Strief was pretty adamant following the game where he expressed with complete certainty he felt that Payton would return — basically saying that he felt Payton and Brees were meant to leave together, if it were to happen.
It would serve as a bookend to how the offensive dynamic duo started their tenure with the franchise, as one of Payton’s first acts of taking over as head coach was to bring Brees in as a free agent.
Payton was terse to say the least when asked about his future with the Saints on Sunday afternoon; and didn’t confirm or deny about his possible departure which ended with him abruptly exiting, leaving the speculation flames to reach epic proportions.
Jan 3, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton reacts to a play on the sideline in the third quarter of their game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The Saints won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Even Payton’s emotions after the walk-off victory over the Falcons has been open to interpretation; with some saying the jubilant fist-pumping was a coach locked in to winning with the team, with others saying it looked like a coach “riding off into the sunset”.
WWL 870 AM’s Saints sideline reporter and Double Coverage host Kristian Garic brought up an interesting theory that the team may be looking to extend Payton’s contract instead of a trade.
This is actually a very good theory, since the Saints are likely looking to extend Brees who is heading into the final year of his contract and expressed his desire to stay in New Orleans as well as be open to an extension.
While players were made available to the media yesterday, Payton is scheduled to have the end of the season media session tomorrow —which is where all speculation will end to his plans, as well as the Saints, for 2016……