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Sean Payton stepping away from Saints could impact Eagles down the road

One of the NFL’s best head coaches might eventually land in the NFC East.

NFL: NOV 21 Saints at Eagles Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sean Payton: future Dallas Cowboys head coach?

Such speculation has only intensified — after already existing as an undercurrent for years — following the somewhat surprising news that the New Orleans Saints head coach is stepping away from the NFL.

For now, at least.

With Payton still under contract with the Saints through 2024, the Cowboys can’t instantly hire him to replace Mike McCarthy. But it’s not difficult to envision Payton taking the Bruce Arians path in terms of getting paid as a TV analyst for a year (or two) before returning to the coaching in a new NFL city. It’s also not difficult to envision Dallas being eager to move on from McCarthy after he inevitably holds them back in the playoffs (assuming they make it there) once again.

The Cowboys eventually replacing McCarthy with Payton would not be an ideal development for the Philadelphia Eagles. With a career 159-89 record under his belt, there’s some evidence to suggest he’s a good coach. I mean, he almost had the Saints in the playoffs this year despite the fact they were starting the combination of Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian, and Ian Book at quarterback.

While Payton does have a Super Bowl ring to his name, his teams have become known for underachieving in the playoffs in recent years. (So, maybe a perfect fit for the Cowboys, then.) New Orleans had just three postseason wins to accompany a 49-15 regular season record from 2017 through 2020. And all this despite having a Hall of Fame quarterback in Drew Brees to work with.

Still, the thought of Payton eventually landing in Dallas isn’t exactly comforting. I broached this topic more with Blogging The Boys’ RJ Ochoa and in the latest episode of the NFC East Mixtape. You can listen here:

A few other angles to the Payton news to consider:

  • Could the Eagles try to hire him if Nick Sirianni flames out in Year 2? Not to suggest that Sirianni struggling is a likely outcome; he clearly showed promise in 2021. But he still has much to prove and the Eagles have previously shown interest in hiring Payton. You’ll recall that he worked for Jeffrey Lurie as Philly’s quarterbacks coach in 1997 and 1998.
  • The Eagles won’t have to face Payton when they play the Saints in 2022. The Eagles are 2-0 in their last two meetings against them. Though, of course, those games featured Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian starting for the opposition.
  • Could Doug Pederson replace Payton in New Orleans? Promoting Dennis Allen seems like the obvious move ... but Payton and Pederson are close friends. Payton might highly recommend Dougie P as his replacement.

Other NFCEM podcast topics include:

  • Potential defensive coordinator replacements for Dan Quinn and Jonathan Gannon
  • How Cowboys fans are feeling about their loss to the 49ers after seeing San Francisco beat Green Bay
  • Justin Fields or Jimmy G to Washington?
  • The Giants might actually be on the right track?

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