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Sean Payton leaving the Saints reports picking up steam

If Sunday is the typical day of the splash report, then consider it the Super Bowl for the Saints and Sean Payton.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It may be a new calendar year, but ‘Tis the Season for Sean Payton leaving the New Orleans Saints. It’s been going on for quite some time, but picked up steam this morning starting with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport once again linking Payton to the Los Angeles Rams before most of us woke up.

Many Saints fans carry the same type of general response when news comes from Rapoport, saying to themselves, ‘When is this guy ever right when it comes to the Saints?’ But then, a report from CBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora suggested that Doug Marrone would be the front-runner for the job in New Orleans if Payton were traded.

There remains a very real possibility the Saints trade coach Sean Payton this offseason, and if they do, sources said Jaguars interim coach Doug Marrone would be given serious consideration for the job in New Orelans. Marrone is well thought of there from his stint in New Orelans and clicked with quarterback Drew Brees, and he also has prior head coaching experience with Buffalo.

Once again, fans ask the question of when is La Canfora (or almost anyone from the national media for that matter) right about the Saints? After all, La Canfora essentially had this same report last year. It was time to go about the day, but then it got real once FOX Sports insider Jay Glazer chimed in on the future of Sean Payton.

Specifically on Payton, Glazer said, “We go through this a lot. Sean Payton. There is interest elsewhere.”

“Could this be the year that Sean Payton, Mickey Loomis choose to have a decision it’s time to move on? If Sean Payton does, they are gonna obviously have a lot of people that will try to jump all over that job,” Glazer added.

Of course, teams will be interested in Sean Payton for a coaching vacancy, and how could they not? Payton brings a ton of offensive appeal, has won a Super Bowl, and generally runs a team his way.

What Makes Fans Question Payton Leaving

  • For starters, let’s stick with contradictory reporting from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. During Sunday morning television programming, Schefter did note that the ball is in general manager Mickey Loomis’ court, but it sounds like Payton would be back for 2017.
  • The relationship with Drew Brees. It’s hard to dismiss the pairing between these two, who have been together for the past decade. Brees recently said that he ‘absolutely’ expects Payton to be back, and while that seems like a typical response from the soon-to-be 38-year-old quarterback, it carries more weight than a not so subtle splash report.
  • Payton’s demeanor and attitude suggests that he anticipates being back. Thursday’s conference call with the media prompted Payton to respond when asked about filling holes in their team with veterans, “We just have to find a way to continue to build on our talent. It’s going to be important that we have a real good offseason with the free agency process and the draft process and build on what we have.”
  • A Tom Benson endorsement. After Week 16’s win over the Buccaneers, Benson made it a point to congratulate Payton on his 100th victory as the Saints ball coach. It was short and sweet, but Benson said, “Great coach! Great game!”. He was also awarded a game ball from Loomis, and the team is a believer in their coach.

Many look at 2017 as the ‘make it or break it’ year for the New Orleans Saints. They’ll have salary cap space to land some key free agents, many players returning under contract, and arguably a competent defensive coordinator and scheme to work with. Now, if things don’t go the way the organization expects next season, then you can absolutely bet the farm on the Saints to start a new chapter without Sean Payton.

As much noise as these reports have produced, it would be nice to have Payton finally squelch them once and for all so that we can officially turn our attention to a new season.