If you can’t beat him ... take his job instead?
When Sean Payton announced that he was leaving the New Orleans Saints in February, he wanted to make it clear that “retirement ... is not the right word today.” The 58-year-old head coach of the Saints for the past 15 years, Payton may have realized that even one season without a top-tier quarterback like Drew Brees was one season too many. That could be why reports this week of a possible return to the NFL by 2023 have included the idea that Payton doesn’t want to go anywhere unless there’s a solid quarterback in place.
Payton reportedly also prefers warm weather and a good roster that is already ready to compete, not the beginnings of a rebuild like what he signed up for in New Orleans back in 2006.
Well, the Los Angeles Rams may not have an opening at head coach right now. But they do have warm weather, a championship roster, and Matthew Stafford.
While there is an early list of three teams already out there that includes the Miami Dolphins (who reportedly tried to trade for Payton before hiring Mike McDaniel after they were rebuffed), the Dallas Cowboys, and the L.A. Chargers, it’s not too soon to suggest that the Rams would also make sense if McVay opts for an early retirement.
And we know that McVay’s unique situation as a head coach, being the youngest ever hired at the time of his career start in 2017 and then winning a Super Bowl by 36, has brought the question up before of whether or not he might walk away from the game while he’s still a young man. It’s also not a rumor that McVay has ever vehemently denied, even if he does plan to keep coaching for as long as it continues to be fulfilling.
What are the odds that if the Rams win another Super Bowl in 2022 or 2023 that perhaps McVay leaves the NFL for broadcasting and in return Payton leaves his short stint in broadcasting (he will be working with Fox this season) for a chance to go to a team that already has a roster, a quarterback, and the beach?
The other reported stipulation, according to a source that is close to Payton, is control over personnel decisions. That’s something that McVay has a handle on too, so would it be that surprising if Les Snead and the Rams’ front office were to acquiesce to Payton’s demand if McVay does retire in the next couple of years?
It’s really not an outlandish scenario given how many shocking announcements have already been made this year alone.
But New Orleans does hold onto Payton’s rights through 2024, so any acquisition before then would have to come through an agreed trade with the Saints. That’s also not something that Snead would fear.
It was not that long ago, at least within most of our lifetimes, that the Rams won the Super Bowl and then lost Dick Vermeil after the season. And though Mike Martz helped usher in a 14-2 season and another trip to the Super Bowl two years later, that loss to the Patriots was the beginning of the end. Then came Scott Linehan, Steve Spagnuolo, and Jeff Fisher.
The only scenario that the L.A. Rams want to picture with McVay is one that lasts for many more decades. Not years, decades. However, if the unwanted scenario plays out and McVay is not with the Rams in a year or two, there could be a lot worse options than Sean Payton.
Like Scott Linehan and Steve Spagnuolo. The Rams don’t have to make that decision now, but while we’re throwing out names of other teams that don’t have head coach openings, why not one that makes a lot more sense than three teams that haven’t won a Super Bowl in at least 25 years?