Apparently the Indianapolis Colts figure that if you have Jeff Saturday in your pocket, you don’t need to talk to Sean Payton.
The Carolina Panthers formally requested an interview with Payton according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, making them the fourth team to ask the New Orleans Saints for permission. The Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans already had put in the request. The Colts, who have interviewed other candidates but still haven’t publicly ruled out making Saturday their permanent head coach, are the only team with an opening that hasn’t requested an interview with Payton.
It’s no surprise that Payton is a popular candidate. He will be as long as he doesn’t have a job. Teams are lining up to interview him despite knowing that they’ll need to give the Saints some trade compensation because Payton is still under contract with New Orleans.
There aren’t many candidates that have a Super Bowl ring and a .631 winning percentage like Payton does. Payton stepped away from the Saints after last season, but everyone knew that was temporary.
The Panthers are an interesting opening. They don’t have an answer at quarterback but have some other interesting pieces, and it wouldn’t be too hard to rise quickly in a bad NFC South. Panthers owner David Tepper is also willing to spend big. It might cost the Panthers a little extra in a trade since New Orleans is a division rival, but Carolina presumably understands what it will cost.
Payton will land somewhere if he wants. It just won’t be in Indianapolis, apparently.