Nearly a full year after Brian Flores’ lawsuit ignited a flame inside the NFL that would go on to engulf a potential partnership between Tom Brady and Sean Payton, those two may finally get to join forces in 2023. Payton needs to be sure to walk away from that potential blaze and never look back.
Rumors are swirling throughout the NFL that the two will sign on with the same franchise for next season, when neither football savant will be under contract. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio made the topic even juicier when he reported that they might both be on their way to the place where Payton became a future Hall of Famer, New Orleans. Florio wrote that a source informed him that the possibility of Payton and Brady on the Saints is the “worst kept secret in the league.”
The news certainly got the attention of Saints’ WR Michael Thomas. There was a bit of a schism in his and Payton’s relationship last season, when Thomas underwent ankle surgery just prior to the beginning of training camp, and reportedly didn’t take calls from the Saints’ coaches or trainers during the offseason. Injuries also hampered his 2022 campaign but he, and his $25-plus million in dead cap next year, appear to be intrigued at the idea of Payton’s return, and a 46-year-old Brady at quarterback.
Saints’ insider Nick Underhill is reporting that “it would be a surprise” if Dennis Allen does not return as the team’s head coach next season.
Sticking with Allen would be the wise move for the Saints, and Payton should be closely paying attention to the Dallas Cowboys’ playoff performance. If they make another quick exit, or get blown out in any round short of the Super Bowl, he might finally get the job that he has been linked to through rumors for years.
Even if the Cowboys’ head coaching does not open up, Payton does not need to ride back into New Orleans on his white horse with Brady by his side, huffing and puffing his way to 50 years old. Payton could have coached the Saints for as long as he wanted, but he instead decided to do something different. However, he made it clear that leaving the Bayou was not a retirement.
While his original plans appear to have been thwarted by the Dolphins’ blatant disregard for the NFL’s anti-tampering policies, running back home with a Fair Condition version of Brady is not the way to get back into coaching for one of the league’s best. Especially with the salary cap knots that the Saints’ front office is forced to untangle every season.
Maybe the Las Vegas Raiders job opens up, or the Houston Texans want to start with a clean slate with Bryce Young as their No. 1 overall draft pick. A rookie quarterback, and free reign to do what he wants with an organization, they may not have stars on their helmets in Houston, but with a star coach and quarterback that franchise could get turned around in a hurry.
Or maybe Payton doesn’t like any of the jobs available and decides to wait for another year. He’s still not even 60 years old. Payton will be just as desirable a hire in 2024 as he will be in 2023.
The NFL is his oyster, he had just better not ruin it by adding a dash of — very close to the expiration date — Brady.