Todd Bowles of the New York Jets is the odds-on favorite as the first NFL coach fired this season. Sean Payton isn’t the favorite, but there’s still a chance he could find himself coaching for a new team either midseason or after the season is over. ESPN recently rated all 32 NFL coaches job security, and Sean Payton was stuck firmly in limbo - “not under fire, but not disaster-proof.”
I have a hard time believing Payton will be fired unless this season turns into a total disaster. Yes, the Saints have finished 7-9 three seasons in a row. But Payton got a five-year extension last year because the Saints believe in his ability to lead their rebuilding efforts (and that wouldn't change if they ever decided to move on from Drew Brees because Payton is a quarterback guru by trade and could help develop the next guy). If anything, the two sides could mutually part ways if it becomes apparent that this team is stuck in the mud and a change is needed.
Personally, I’m firmly in the camp that another season like the past few years signals the end of Sean Payton in New Orleans. If the Saints miss the playoffs but manage a respectable record, say 10-5, I don’t think Sean Payton and the Saints part ways. If the Saints finish with a fourth straight 7-9 record but somehow make the playoffs (unlikely), then again, I don’t think Payton leaves.
A 7-9 record is unlikely to lead a team to the playoffs, though, so if the Saints finish 2017 like they have the last three seasons, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Sean Payton coaching somewhere else in 2018. If the Saints lose 9 games early in the season and look to be firmly out of playoff contention, it’s even possible Sean Payton finds himself somewhere else during the 2017 season.