Sunday morning, ESPN's Adam Schefter broke the news that Sean Payton's contract extension with the Saints was voided because of a technical snafu Roger Goodell didn't like joining Payton's contract status with GM Mickey Loomis. Immediately, seemingly every NFL writer, reporter, and pundit began forwarding the scenario of Payton leaving New Orleans to coach the Dallas Cowboys. Why? Well, the Cowboys are America's Team after all. At least they used to be. And, Payton leaving New Orleans after BountyGate to rescue a Dallas Cowboys team in clear need of a savior is just too juicy of a story not to dream about. Besides, all the signs are there. Sean Payton used to coach in Dallas, he lives there, and he went to the same college as Tony Romo. They even played beach football together once!
It's been 24 hours since the Payton contract news broke, but the media is driving the narrative that he will/should/might coach the Dallas Cowboys next year. For years, the Payton-to-Dallas rumors have persisted, but they reached DEFCON 1 levels this weekend. It's like the NFL media is openly rooting for Sean Payton to coach the Dallas Cowboys just because of the sexiness of the story. We're one step short of seeing someone write "HOW BOUT THEM COWBOYS" as a reason for Payton to leave New Orleans for Dallas. I've never seen a story so universally crafted by intense media speculation so quickly like this one...
Payton is expected to become the NFL's most sought-after head coach after this season and there already is speculation in league circles that he could wind up returning to Dallas, where he worked as the assistant head coach from 2003 to 2005, during which time the Dallas Cowboys brought in quarterback Tony Romo, who attended the same college, Eastern Illinois, as Payton.
Adam Schefter - ESPN
Now for the Cowboys. If you saw Jerry Jones' interview with Bob Costas Sunday night on NBC, you saw the Dallas owner give what I'd call a tepid endorsement of his current coach, Jason Garrett. I know Jones really likes Garrett, but the owner also has to be frustrated with the fact that Garrett's just 16-16 in his short career as coach, and 3-5 this season following a soft offensive performance in a 19-13 loss at Atlanta Sunday night. Awful clock management likely cost the Cowboys a good shot at a win at Baltimore three weeks ago, and Tony Romo and his receivers sometimes look as though they're all college freshmen going through orientation together. Jones liked Payton when Payton was on the Dallas staff coaching quarterbacks and the passing game from 2003 to '05, and they're similar people. They work hard and play hard.
Peter King - SI
I've always appreciated Garrett's team-building process, and I've believed Garrett provides the best opportunity to win based on Jerry's dysfunctional organizational flow chart.
No more. The beauty of sports is that it's fluid. What's true today might not be true tomorrow. What's true this month might not be true next month, and what's true this year might not be true next year. The 48-year-old Payton has won a Super Bowl and he has worked under Bill Parcells, so he has pedigree. He'd maximize Tony Romo's ability. More important, he gets Jerry just like Garrett gets Jerry.
Jean Jacques Taylor - ESPN Dallas
It's all speculation at this point, but it's not too hard to connect the dots. Jones always goes after a more well-known and dominant coach when his team is on the skids -- that was the thought process behind the Parcells hire in the first place -- and Payton may well be looking for a change in scenery after a year of such personal and professional upheaval.
Payton and Romo remain close, though -- they played a beach football game together during the 2011 lockout in which Payton benched Romo, replaced the quarterback with himself, and threw Romo a touchdown pass.
Doug Farrar - Yahoo
Our man Adam Schefter has a report Sunday morning that the NFL has voided Sean Payton's contract extension with the New Orleans Saints, which could make Payton a free-agent head-coaching candidate at the end of this season. The taint of the Saints' bounty scandal (for which Payton is suspended this entire season) would not be enough to damage him as a top-end candidate in the eyes of any team looking for a new head coach. And since Payton lives in Dallas and current Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett is ... well ... not exactly a fan favorite these days, I am already being asked by my Twitter followers for my thoughts on whether Jerry Jones would dump Garrett for Payton if Payton became available.
Dan Graziano - ESPN Dallas
It’s not unthinkable that an owner – even one less prone to volatility than Jerry Jones – would get rid of what he might consider a good coach in favor of one perceived as better. Payton has won a Super Bowl. He has won 62 games in six seasons in New Orleans despite taking over a franchise that had redefined the concept of “limited success” in its first 40 seasons.
Tim Cowlishaw - Dallas Morning News
Payton, a former Cowboys assistant, recently bought a home in Dallas and would likely be highly coveted by Jones should the Cowboys owner decide to part ways with Jason Garrett.
Chris Strauss - USA Today
It was news to just about everyone on Sunday. It didn't take more than a couple seconds, however, to digest the fall out and begin the speculation. The NFL reportedly voided Payton's 2011 contract extension with the New Orleans Saints due to language the league found unacceptable, according to ESPN. Payton was suspended for the season for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal. Although questions remain if the league actually can kill the deal, and the chances Payton would even leave a town he brought a Super Bowl to are minimal, he conceivably could jump to another franchise at the end of the year.
Like the 3-5 Dallas Cowboys, where fan patience with the floundering Jason Garrett era only continues to wane.
Dan Wetzel - Yahoo Sports
As for what Sean Payton has had to say about this situation? He told Fox's Jay Glazer, "I absolutely plan on being a New Orleans Saint."
But don't let that get in the way of a better story.