Saints Alive! What’s Going On In Louisiana?
For the first time since 2006, the Saints are under new management. But how murky is the situation? Late in January Sean Payton announced that he would be stepping down from the role of Head Coach. There is no doubt though that Payton will have teams clamouring for his services at the end of this season – perhaps even before then.
The Saints hold all the cards, with Payton contracted until 2024. But does Sean Payton want to retire early and move on to the next stage of his life? John Madden retired from coaching at 42 after all.
It’s a not-so-new face in charge in New Orleans in Dennis Allen, who has been an assistant or coordinator for the Saints since 2015. Before then, Allen also had a stint with the team on the defensive staff from 2006-2010. He has experience as a Head Coach, albeit unsuccessfully with the Raiders from 2012 to 2014. He was fired after the team visit to London with an overall record of 8-28.
Despite this, Allen is highly respected, at least as a Coordinator, having built an imposing unit in New Orleans. That said, given the choice a year from now, who would the Saints choose to run the team if Payton wanted to come back?
Even with a good performance this season, as well as the loyalty to Allen for his service, one would expect Payton to regain Head Coaching responsibilities.
Great Opportunity For Allen To Prove Himself
Even with Drew Brees long gone, this is a loaded roster. Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas should return to full health. Winston is hit and miss but he is a solid franchise QB. On offence, there is rookie Chris Olave, Alvin Kamara and Jarvis Landry plus a strong offensive line.
Then there’s Dennis Allen’s defence which includes Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport, plus a stacked secondary including Marshon Lattimore, Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu. This team has to be considered near favourites for the NFC South, depending on how Tom Brady fairs under Todd Bowles.
The Trading Precedent
Of course, Payton may choose to come back to coaching but say he needs a new challenge. Then Payton may be traded to a desperate team for a King’s ransom. There isn’t much precedent for coaches being traded, and any precedent is over two decades old.
Jon Gruden was traded to the Buccaneers for a pair of first and a pair of second round picks plus cash. Bill Belichick was traded to the Pats for first, fourth and seventh round picks (with 5th and 7th round picks going the other way). And Bill Parcells was traded the opposite way, to the Jets, for first, second, third and fourth round picks.
The Cowboys would be the leading contenders. Jerry Jones loves to make a splash and has long been linked with Payton. Plus, Mike McCarthy has a warming seat in Dallas.
For now, the Saints have two coaches under contract for 2022 and beyond. Dennis Allen will be very keen to prove he is capable in the top role and Sean Payton is far from an old Head Coach at 58. It all depends on what Payton wants to do but he will certainly receive some very tempting offers.
It is going to be an intriguing season. Especially if any murmurings about Payton’s future start to come out as the season progresses. If the Saints season starts poorly, could history repeat itself? Could Allen be replaced following the Saints’ trip to London on October 2nd?
If you enjoyed this article you can find more great content from the author Adam Barton here.
Image: Derick E Hingle / USA Today Sports