NFL Exec Names Colts as Destination for Super Bowl-Winning Coach

Jim Irsay

Getty Owner Jim Irsay, general manager Chris Ballard and the Indianapolis Colts.

Unsurprisingly, an NFL executive told Heavy’s Matt Lombardo that Sean Payton will be the most sought-after coach during the hiring frenzy following the 2022 season.

But somewhat unexpectedly, the NFC personnel executive speaking on the condition of anonymity identified the Indianapolis Colts as one of the best fits for the 58-year-old coach.

“He can basically wind up anywhere he wants,” the executive said. “You look at the Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, the Chargers, the Indianapolis Colts, just go on and on.”

What Sean Payton Wants Most in Next Coaching Destination

Indianapolis is obviously a winning organization with a strong tradition that dates all the way back to the start of the Super Bowl era. Any coach who wants to be in an organization that holds a special place in NFL history will be hard-pressed to find a better opening than the Colts this offseason.

But the problem for the Colts in hiring a new head coach is the same issue the team has dealt with since Andrew Luck retired — what’s the future quarterback?

The NFC personnel executive told Heavy that Payton “wants to have a young quarterback in place.” The earliest Indianapolis could have a young, promising signal-caller is the 2023 NFL draft, and there are never guarantees in the draft process.

“Entering Week 13, the Colts sit 4-7-1, likely just on the outskirts of being within reach of one of the top quarterback prospects, which could mean trading for a veteran — again, is the only path to competency at the position,” wrote Heavy senior reporter Matt Lombardo.

How Colts Could Be Best Fit for Sean Payton

While the quarterback remains a big question, it’s not like Indianapolis’ roster is completely bare.

The Colts entered the 2022 season as a favorite to win the AFC South in the minds of many analysts. That’s because of the talent they had at running back and practically every position on defense.

After this disappointing season, Indianapolis will likely need to retool some areas of the roster, but Payton will presumably have a big say in personnel decision as Colts head coach.

“If Payton is aiming to undertake a rebuild, in his image, the Colts make some sense,” wrote Lombardo.

“This is an offense that boasts an All-Pro in running back Jonathan Taylor, and loads of talent at all three levels on defense, but there is no long-term solution at quarterback.”

Lombardo also wrote that if divisions are a factor in Payton’s decision, then the Colts could have a leg up on the competition.

“Payton would have one of the easiest roads to the postseason, though, of any division in football, if he can turn around the Colts.”

The Biggest Hurdle to Hire Sean Payton

The largest obstacle for the Colts adding Payton as head coach, though, doesn’t have anything to do with the team’s quarterback, roster or draft position. It’s that Payton’s previous team, the New Orleans Saints, technically still have him under contract.

“The lone hurdle to Payton returning to the sidelines in 2023 is that the Saints still own his rights, so any team hoping to hire him would need to work out some sort of trade compensation with New Orleans,” wrote Lombardo.

The good news for Indianapolis is this is a hurdle for every potential suitor for Payton. But it does mean the Colts will lose a draft pick of some kind to hire the Super Bowl winning coach.

ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio wrote on November 20 that the Miami Dolphins were reportedly “ready to surrender a first-round pick to get Payton” for the 2022 season. In all likelihood, acquiring the rights to hire Payton this offseason will not be cheap.

It’ll be interesting to see how much the compensation for Payton could be. Obviously, the Colts would like to have their first-round pick this year to have the option to draft a quarterback to make their organization more enticing for any potential head coach.

Payton posted a 152-89 record in 15 years with the Saints. He also went 9-8 in nine playoff appearances, winning the Super Bowl after the 2009 season against the Colts.

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