What Compensation For A Sean Payton Trade Should Look Like

What Compensation For A Sean Payton Trade Should Look Like

Examining the last major trade involving a head coach, the Saints should expect a king’s ransom if they are to agree to trade Payton.

Payton retired this past offseason with three years left on his contract with the Saints, which runs through the 2024 season. The easiest path back to coaching for the former Super Bowl-winning coach is in New Orleans, but if other teams want to pony up the assets necessary to land him in a trade, the Saints should heavily consider it.

To get an idea of what compensation for Payton would look like, we have to go back to 2002 when the then-Oakland Raiders traded head coach Jon Gruden to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In that deal, the Bucs traded two future first- and second-round picks to the Raiders.
Tampa Bay traded the No. 21 and No. 53 overall picks in the 2002 draft. The 2003 pick ended up being 32nd overall after Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl XXXVII win while the remaining second-round pick was 45th overall in 2004.

The Saints have shown no inclination to tank or undergo a rebuild, but a trade that nets the team multiple high-end draft picks has to be enticing. The organization has done a solid job of drafting over the past several seasons and hitting on draft picks is an easy way to lift a team out of irrelevancy. The Saints are also light on draft capital at the moment, having trading their 2023 first-round pick, so restocking the cupboard would be welcome.

New Orleans has a giant question mark at QB and there have been rumors that Payton and QB Tom Brady are considering teaming up next season. ESPN’s Rex Ryan said he likes the Saints chances of bringing Payton back as head coach and then signing Brady, a 2023 free agent. That would solve the team’s QB conundrum in the short term while kicking a rebuild down the road.

New Orleans is perpetually in salary cap purgatory, but general manager Mickey Loomis has consistently been able to rework player contracts to push costs into future seasons while maximizing the team’s potential in the present.

Getting Payton and Brady to commit to the Saints would fit the front office’s M.O. since the franchise’s Super Bowl XLIV victory. On the other hand, trading Payton would give the team significant resources to improve via the draft while putting a ceiling on the 2023 season.

New Orleans wouldn’t be competing for a championship next year but could be in line for an elite QB prospect such as Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. One step back could propel the team two steps forward.

If Sean Payton has his way, he’ll be back in the NFL next season. That puts New Orleans in a win-win situation.