The Arizona Cardinals will interview Sean Payton for their vacant coaching position at some point and whether or not they have named their next general manager by then, they should be ready to negotiate what is expected to be an expensive compensation package with the New Orleans Saints ending up in Payton as their choice.
Even though he stepped down as head coach of the Saints after the 2021 season, Payton still has two more years left on his contract and New Orleans will be out getting all they can for his services. The assumption was that he would cost any team that hired him a first-round draft pick, at least.
Arizona is currently ranked #3 in this year’s draft. Would the Cardinals seriously consider dealing with the Saints – and perhaps more – for the rights to lease Payton, 59?
“I want the best for him. I do. We do just that, collectively as an organization,” Saints CEO and General Manager Mickey Loomis told reporters Friday. “He gave everything he could to the New Orleans Saints and took us to levels the organization and team have never achieved. Before, so I definitely want the best for him.
“But I also realize that he’s a valuable asset. His contract is a valuable asset to our club, and it’s our job to maximize that. Look, I think between the quarterback on the team and the head coach, no one influences a win more than these two guys in any building. So, I know.” What he brings to the table, and I know that’s really helpful. And it’s our duty to maximize that value if he chooses to train again during that time frame where we have those rights.”
Payton has led the Saints to a 152-89 record and nine trips to the postseason in his fifteen seasons in New Orleans, which includes a Super Bowl win during the 2009 season. His teams have won seven division titles. What is the cost for the club to obtain its services?
“We haven’t settled yet on exactly what the compensation will be,” Loomis said, adding to the team interested in Payton, “They are well aware that there will be compensation.”
Payton has also interviewed the Broncos and Texans. Houston retains the second overall pick, and Denver, which traded its first-round pick to Seattle in a Russell Wilson trade, will pick the bottom third of the first-round pick when acquired from the 49ers via the Dolphins.
In 2002, the Pirates traded two first-round picks and two second-round picks for assists, along with $8 million in cash for coach John Gruden. In 1999, the Seahawks only cost a second round pick to snatch head coach Mike Holmgren away from the Packers.
If the Cardinals focus on Payton as their replacement for Cliff Kingsbury, they will have to get creative in their negotiations with Loomis and the Saints. With the No. 3 pick this year so valuable — and it could help them get Alabama’s edge rusher, Will Anderson Jr., the highest-ranked prospect in the entire draft — Arizona could offer New Orleans its second-round pick.
The Cardinals may also offer a trade package that includes dealing star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Saints. Hopkins has been linked to multiple trade rumors since the end of the regular season and the Cardinals are said to be willing to listen to transfer offers from his hefty salary.
Considering how delicate any compensation negotiation with Loomis and the Saints can get, it would probably be the duty of Cardinals owner Michael Bidwell to hire a new GM first and let that one handle the Saints, assuming the next GM would rather hire Payton.
Bidwill has already interviewed five people for the general manager position—internal candidates Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris, former Giants GM Jerry Reese, Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham, Ravens player personnel director Joe Hortiz, and Titans player manager Monti Ossenfort. Bidwill also requested an interview with the 49ers director of player personnel, Ran Carthon, which could take place on Monday.
Along with Payton, the Cardinals requested interviews with 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, now a senior defensive assistant and running backs coach for the Steelers, for their vacant coaching position. The Cardinals are also scheduled to meet with their defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph, sometime in the next few days.
As for Kingsbury, who went 28-37-1 in his four years at Arizona, he apparently left the country for some R&D.
Several teams have approached Kingsbury for offensive coordinator vacancies, Peter Schrager of FOX Sports and NFL Network’s Good Morning Football reported Saturday, but he’s bought a one-way ticket to Thailand and “respectfully” told teams he’s not interested in the NFL coaching position right now.
The Cardinals granted Kingsbury a multi-year extension in March that included $30 million in guaranteed salaries.