Will Jerry Jones fire Mike McCarthy and (finally) hire Sean Payton?

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton abruptly quit on Tuesday, which opens the perfect door for Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. 

Let’s spare hyperbole: The most stunning head coaching move of this offseason happened two weeks and a day after the NFL’s annual exodus.

Sean Payton, a Super Bowl winner and future Hall of Fame head coach, abruptly stepped away from the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday.

According to Saints beat writer Nick Underhill, Payton isn’t simply quitting the Saints rather he’s quitting football altogether.

Retirement is the buzzword and logic being attached to the stunning move, but that won’t deter the avalanche of rumors and speculation that Payton still has one more stop on his coaching journey.

Sean Payton rumors: Will Dallas Cowboys finally swoop in?

What a culmination to almost a decades-worth of rumor mill churning this would be. It’s no secret that the Cowboys have had two things over the last handful of years:

  1. A need for a top-tier head coach to take the team to a Super Bowl level
  2. A desire for that person to be Sean Payton

You could add in a third, and possibly the most weighted, point: Soul crushing disappointment.

This year’s tremendously embarrassing Wild Card exit from the playoffs was just a continuation of a downward spiral the Cowboys have been in for years. Nothing seems able to fix the problem, not Bill Parcells or building through the draft nor hiring Aaron Rodgers’ old coach.

The curse of the Cowboys dynasty has been being forced to live in the dark shadow of its success for going on almost three decades.

Jerry Jones is nothing if not extremely loyal to his dudes, which was perfectly reflected in his keeping the ultimate Cowboys Dude — Jason Garrett — around for perhaps too long. Sean Payton, in addition to the many accolades he has on his resume, has a massive box that Jerry likes to have checked when looking for Cowboys leadership: A former job in Dallas.

Payton coached on Bill Parcell’s staff in Dallas from 2003 until 2005 when he left to be the Saints head coach. The rest, as they say, is Super Bowl-winning history but it’s a Sliding Doors moment that haunts Cowboys fans to this day. What would have happened if Dallas had hired Payton?

Throughout the end of Garrett’s tenure in Dallas, the most consistent replacement rumor was linked to Payton. There never seemed to be much validity to the rumor outside of fans openly musing and frothing over the idea of a Super Bowl-winning offensive guru coming to Big D and fixing everything. To be fair to delusionally hopeful Cowboys fans, Payton coming to Dallas would have been beyond franchise-altering. There’s a direct line of thought between Payton coming to the Cowboys and a restoration of the glory years of the 90s.

Did Sean Payton retire from the NFL?

This is the main complication in the idea of Payton coming to the Cowboys. The two have had a will-they-won’t-they relationship for years but the main barrier was Payton being gainfully in the employ of the Saints.

Now that that’s no longer an issue it appears an even bigger barrier exists: Retirement.

Payton is stepping away from the Saints not for another job but for peace and quiet. He could be looking to get a cushy TV gig like his former quarterback Drew Brees landed at NBC, or he could look to just get away and enjoy life away from the daily grind of professional football — a life he’s been living since 1997.

Payton seems to be done with the NFL, but the rumor mill won’t stop as his career does.

Here’s baseless speculation that can’t be ignored: Sean Payton steps away from the game for a year while Mike McCarthy flounder in Year 3 with the Cowboys. At this point, Jerry Jones will be able to say he’s seen more than enough to move on from McCarthy and then offer Payton the largest coaching contract in NFL history to come out of retirement.

Will that all actually happen? Cowboys fans don’t need it to be true to spend the next year willing it into existence.


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