Sean Payton leaves Saints, Dallas Cowboys next?

Mike McCarthy Dallas Cowboys 2021

Sean Payton shocked the NFL when he walked away from the New Orleans Saints Tuesday, and almost immediately he was linked with a future hire by the Dallas Cowboys.

The 58-year-old has been regularly linked with Dallas down the years – he coached there under Bill Parcells and still retains a home in the Dallas area. With Jerry Jones clearly furious with Mike McCarthy and his staff after that playoff debacle vs the 49ers, it’s not difficult to do the math….

Sean Payton and the Cowboys

While Jones is a huge Payton fan going way back, it will likely be a while before any long-awaited union with the Cowboys might happen.

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First of all, Payton said at Tuesday’s new conference to announce his departure from the Saints that he will not coach another NFL team for the 2022 season. He is also under contract with New Orleans through 2024 – any team wanting to hire him in that period would need to compensate the Saints.

For now Payton is being strongly linked with a different type of role, as a TV analyst. With Troy Aikman potentially set to bolt FOX to join Al Michaels in the Thursday Night Football booth on Amazon Prime for the 2022 season, that network may need a high-profile replacement. Reports suggest it could be Payton.

As for the Saints, they do of course have a job to fill now – adding to the franchises who parted company with their coaches on ‘Black Monday’.

Saints way over the salary cap

While the role might be a very attractive one, it does come with one pretty big short-term headache – the salary cap. New Orleans is currently $71million OVER the cap heading into the offseason, the worst situation in the league.

Payton, who leaves the Saints after compiling a 152-89 record, led the franchise to its first ever Super Bowl title in 2009, just three years after joining in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

An offensive genius, Payton somehow managed to haul his injury-hit roster to within touching distance of a playoff berth in 2021 – an achievement in itself.

Having seen long-term starting QB Drew Brees retire after the 2020 season, Payton then lost Jameis Winston to a season-ending knee injury after a promising start to 2021. That left him working with Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian for the remainder of the year.