Will Sean Payton coach the Cowboys in 2013?
Payton too good to pass up
Jerry Jones will look for reasons to keep Jason Garrett, not fire him. Too bad for Garrett that the primary reason to let him go is too glaring to ignore.
How many opportunities will Jones get to hire a head coach with a recent Super Bowl ring, who would be such a perfect fit at Valley Ranch?
Jones can't let this chance pass to hire his good pal, Sean Payton.
How can Jerry have patience with Garrett, whom he hopes can grow into a good head coach, when there's no tangible evidence of progress? And when there's a proven upgrade available who happens to be a close personal friend?
Let's make the dangerous assumption that Jerry, desperate to capitalize on the dwindling prime of the team's core veterans, exercises common sense. That means he would make every effort to hire Payton.
The important questions: Why would Payton leave the New Orleans Saints for the Dallas Cowboys? Why would he leave future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees for Tony Romo? Why would he leave a hands-off owner who lets him have free reign for Jerry?
Payton's family reasons for making a move have been well-chronicled. He's a recently divorced father of two, and his children live in a Dallas suburb.
If Payton leaves, he'd surely have financial incentives, too. He's positioned to become the highest-paid coach in NFL history, and Jerry's pockets are deeper than Tom Benson's, not to mention that Payton is reportedly concerned about the Saints' succession plan once the 85-year-old Benson marches on to the Superdome in the sky.
There are also solid football reasons for Payton to pick the Cowboys. Say what you will about Jerry's poor personnel decisions, but the Dallas defense looks loaded compared to the Saints' unit that is on pace to shatter the NFL record for yards allowed in a season. And maybe, just maybe the biggest difference between Brees and Romo is the men who coach the quarterbacks.
Maybe that's Payton's thought process. Like all elite coaches, he has a huge ego. And that might be the biggest reason he'd choose to return to Valley Ranch.
Payton can continue to be a hero in New Orleans, one of the NFL's smallest markets. That's a guarantee if he goes back to the Saints.
But if he fixes the Cowboys, if he's the coach who figures out how to succeed under Jerry, Payton will go down as one of the best coaches in NFL history. As his mentor Bill Parcells often said, coaching the Cowboys is like playing the big room.
How could Payton possibly pass on that?
Adding Payton is a fairy tale
I do not even need the Magic 8-Ball for this question.
Sean Payton will not be with the Dallas Cowboys in 2013. He won't be with the Cowboys because the team will never have a chance to sign him.
With Sunday's news that Payton could be a free agent when his suspension ends, Cowboys fans probably felt like it was Christmas morning. But now that Payton can have talks with the Saints about a new deal even as he sits out the year, that sliver of hope should be lessened.
I'm sure Tim's argument will have something to do with the power of Jerry Jones, the deal-maker of deal-makers, in getting Payton back to Dallas so the coach can make the short drive from Westlake to Valley Ranch each morning. What's funny is Tim wrote the other day that he has no faith in Jones as the right guy to pull the Cowboys out of this 16-year-long malaise. And you can't differentiate between Jones the owner and Jones the general manager in this situation.
Now, if Payton is available, then the Cowboys should go after him.
While Jones often cites the fact that no coach has won a Super Bowl with two different teams, there also not has been a coach like Payton available at his age.
The other coaches, such as Bill Parcells, Mike Holmgren and George Seifert, were older when they became available. Jones has wondered if coaches like that still had the fire in the belly, so to speak. With Payton, he wouldn't have to worry about that, especially coming off a season-long suspension due to "Bountygate."
But the Cowboys would not be Payton's only suitor. All of the dots connect him to Dallas -- his time as an assistant here, his family lives here, he has a great relationship with Jones -- but the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers wouldn't mind having someone like him either. I'm sure other teams that we feel like have secure coaches might want to get into the game.
Payton learned a lot from Parcells when they were together, and leverage is one of them. Payton will hold the leverage and use it the way Parcells used it so often.
If Jones is not guaranteed of getting Payton, then he cannot get rid of Jason Garrett, who is caught in the middle of this mess for the rest of the season or until Payton signs a new deal with Saints owner Tom Benson.
My money is on Payton staying with New Orleans, making this a fairy tale for the Cowboys.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Ed Werder does not take the thought of Sean Payton coming to the Cowboys lightly. He thinks it's a possibility.
ESPN NFL analyst Ed Werder discusses the possibility of Sean Payton coaching the Dallas Cowboys next season.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones downplays the speculation surrounding Sean Payton and says he has faith in Jason Garrett.