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Sean Payton Interested in Arizona Cardinals Job

Payton Interested in Cardinals Job: If the 4-8 Arizona Cardinals fire Kingsbury, Payton would be interested in replacing him.
How much is Sean Payton interested in the Cardinals job?

The Arizona Cardinals currently sit at 4-8 and seem a long shot to make the playoffs. The team entered the season with high expectations after making a playoff berth last year. However, it was not meant to be. A quiet off-season coupled with vast amounts of off-field incidents and injuries has ultimately resulted in the Cardinals being one of the NFL’s basement dwellers this season.

With the team disappointing this season, they could look to move on from head coach Kliff Kingsbury. If that is the case, Sean Payton should be top of the shortlist. It is rumored that Payton is interested in the Cardinals job too.

How Strong is Payton’s Interest in Cardinals?

Payton most recently coached the New Orleans Saints and is considered one of the league’s best head coaches around. He left the team alongside Drew Brees, marking the end of an era in New Orleans.

With Payton available, it is believed that he is looking to try his hand at a new head coaching gig at another team. It recently emerged that Payton was interested in the Cardinals job, alongside the Los Angeles Chargers role. The Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts are also in the running, but it is said that Payton would prefer a job with more certainty at the quarterback position.

It seems that the Cardinals and Chargers are the two likeliest destinations for Payton given their futures with Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert respectively. This all hinges on how the teams finish too. The Cardinals faced the Chargers just before their bye, narrowly losing 25-24. If Brandon Staley manages to pull the 6-6 Chargers season together then he is unlikely to be on the hot seat. That ship seems to have sailed for Kingsbury, however.

In Payton’s newfound spare time, the former Saints coach has been doing a lot of punditry. His segments with Colin Cowherd have been interesting, and it is clear that he has a deep interest in the Cardinals currently.

He has also sung the praises of Murray multiple times this season. After a dramatic overtime win against the Las Vegas Raiders, Payton lauded Murray’s victorious display. At the same time, Payton has also been critical of the Cardinals play calling and game plans, showing that he has been following the team closely.

Could it Happen?

While Payton’s interest in the Cardinals job is borderline palpable, its practicality makes the move seem less plausible.

While this season has been a vast disappointment, there is no doubt that Kingsbury has had moments of brilliance with the Cardinals. Prior to the 2022 season, the former Texas Tech head coach led Arizona to an improved record every year. Kingsbury’s offensive mind has stalled this season. However, when the Cardinals were 7-0 last season, he was in the running for the Coach of the Year Award. On this basis, it might seem short-sighted to fire Kingsbury after his first disappointing season.

There is also the issue that Kingsbury signed a contract extension in the off-season after leading Arizona to the playoffs. The long-term extension makes it harder for the team to fire him, not least because of the vast compensation he would be owed.

Perhaps the most fundamental question is whether the Cardinals view Kingsbury as the root of all the problems. Some might point the finger at GM Steve Keim for a lack of roster building. Others might criticise the players, with Murray being underwhelming this year. It ultimately depends on if the team thinks that appointing a new head coach would solve their problems.

Even if the Cardinals decide to fire Kingsbury, a further complication arises with Payton. The Saints still have the rights to Payton and so, if the Cardinals are to acquire him, they would need to give the Saints some compensation. Payton would also command one of the highest wages among head coaches. It is unclear if the Cardinals would have the muscle to pay him while also compensating Kingsbury.

Despite Payton’s interest in the Cardinals, a lot of things would need to happen for the acquisition to occur.

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