Are the Cowboys the best destination for Sean Payton in 2023?
By: Jake Rajala
The Bill Parcell disciple and mind behind Drew Brees’s dominance, Sean Payton, stepped away from football in the 2022 off-season. Well, it appears that the creative genius in Payton may only need one non-football season to sharpen his iron. According to the Miami Herald, he may be intrigued in joining the Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Chargers, or the Miami Dolphins in 2023. It’s clearly not a surprise that the Boys are listed as a potential landing spot for Payton — as he was an assistant head coach with Dallas from 2003 to 2005.
With that enunciated, I’m going to simply untwine the best landing spots for the former Saints wiz in 2022.
Before the Big Bang, there was a rumor that Payton would reunite with the Boys. It makes too much sense for Payton to head to Dallas next off-season. The reigning NFC East champions have a young, gifted QB in Dak Prescott. He threw 4,449 passing yards and 37 passing touchdowns in 2021 – after playing in five contests in 2020. They also have a very exciting defense led by last year’s DROY Micah Parsons and interception magnet Trevon Diggs. All in all, the Cowboys have a nice location, promising QB, and all-around talent to help Payton regularly stride for a Lombardi trophy.
I’m positive that Matt Rhule has less than favorable odds of remaining with his team beyond 2022. The Carolina Panthers may not seem like an attractive landing spot, but Payton could still choose to link up with a 2023 rookie QB in Carolina next off-season. The Panthers could garner four to five more terrific seasons out of CMAC and they also have an ascending defense. It should also be noted that Charlotte is a warm city (which also has the NASCAR Hall of Fame).
Los Angeles Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers have beautiful weather w/ a golden-armed quarterback in Justin Herbert. The former Oregon Duck unleashed 38 passing touchdowns and a whopping 5,014 passing yards in 2021. Herbert’s weaponry should remain intact for the foreseeable future, as well. The electric WR Keenan Allen will remain a Charger until the 2025 off-season. Mike Williams signed a three-year contract extension worth $60 million dollars this off-season. Of course, the Chargers really loaded up on defensive talent this off-season — as they brought in the former DPOY Khalil Mack and J.C. Jackson (17 ints in past two seasons combined). If the Chargers don’t win a playoff game next season, they may wish to swap out Brandon Staley for the Saints legendary HC.
New York Jets
Payton may be fascinated about coaching in the Big Apple and developing the young QB Zach Wilson. He may not have had the sexiest rookie campaign (9 passing TDs, 11 Ints), but he still has a lot of arm talent. The former Saints Super Bowl winning DC Gregg Williams loved the idea of coaching in NYC and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Payton was in awe of the big lights in Gotham. I don’t love the direction with Robert Saleh, to say the least. If he can’t win games and witness production from Wilson in 2022, it will be difficult for the former 49ers DC to escape Black Monday.
The Houston Texans may be the poor man’s version of the Dallas Cowboys, but that also means that are a somewhat logical landing spot for Payton. The Texans have a young, talented QB in Davis Mills. He threw 16 passing TDs, 10 Ints, and 2,664 passing yards in 11 games as a Texan last season. Of course, the Texans offense also features Payton’s former WR Brandin Cooks, who also signed a two-year contract extension worth $39.7 million dollars. PFF gave Cooks a modest 77.4 grade for his 2021 performance. Houston is also a very warm city with lots of passion for football — as J.J. Watt knows all too well.
The Tennessee Titans are the ultimate darkhorse squad to land Payton in my opinion. They may wish to move on from Mike Vrabel and Ryan Tannehill after this season – then proceed to find an offensive-minded coach for Malik Willis in 2023. Payton could squeeze the remaining juice out of the bemoth Derrick Henry, while growing the QB from Liberty. The Titans may not have A.J. Brown, who is in an Eagles uniform, but they still have the new WR Robert Woods (who had 900+ receiving yds in each season from 2018 to 2020).
The Seattle Seahawks could attempt to move on from Pete Carroll and then obtain Payton w/ a 2023 rookie signal-caller in 2023. Payton could have the keys to a Top-5 draft pick in the 2023 draft with the Hawks, as well. The Seahawks still have talent outside of the QB — such as DK Metcalf, Rashaad Penny, Tyler Lockett, Noah Fant, and Jamal Adams. The Hawks could certainly return to being a force in the NFC West w/ the genius in Payton.
Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders could make a surprise move of hiring Sean Payton in the 2023 off-season to bump up in the AFC West arms race. Josh McDaniels may be an intense, bright mind, but he may not make enough noise to survive in the blazing AFC West. Payton could constantly dream up ways to get Davante Adams and Darren Waller the football. He also has a defense led by a terrific pass rushing tandem in Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby. It would be quite surreal if the loaded AFC West division welcomed Payton — regardless of his desired team.
The Atlanta Falcons are the second NFC South team that may push to land Payton’s services. The Falcons possess a fine combination of a relaxing location and a QB with a plethora of potential in Desmond Riddler. The Falcons could have growing pains in 2022, but that also means they could have a Top-10 draft choice in the 2023 draft. Payton may feel confident in Riddler and building the Falcons team next off-season.