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Ex-Saints coach Sean Payton ‘monitoring potential job offers at Chargers and Cardinals’

Free agent NFL coach Sean Payton is eyeing expected openings at the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Chargers, according to multiple reports.

Payton, 58, shocked New Orleans Saints fans by abruptly retiring in January after 15 seasons and a Super Bowl title with the team. Since then, the Saints have struggled, winning 4-7 under first-year head coach Dennis Allen, while Payton reportedly remains the front-runner for several teams.

Both ESPN and podcaster Johnny Venerable report Payton’s interest in the 4-7 Cardinals and 5-5 Chargers, both of which failed to live up to expectations in 2022. Arizona head coach Kliff Kingsbury is likely to be heading into his third losing season for just five straight months after the team made a five-year, $230 million commitment to 25-year-old quarterback Kyler Murray. Meanwhile, LA’s Brandon Staley has taken a step back in his second season at the helm of the Chargers after winning 9-8 in 2021.

This isn’t the first hint that Payton would be interested in coaching the Chargers.

As an NFL executive Jason La Canfora told The Washington Post in October, Payton “really” wants to coach talented Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who will likely be among the highest-paid players in the game when his contract expires after the 2023 season.

‘[Dean] Spanos doesn’t like paying his coaches, but once your quarterback starts making $50 million a year, are you really going to be cheap with your head coach? the unnamed executive told La Canfora.

“Sean loves living in Southern California. You have Herbert and some other blue chip players. That’s the fit.’

ESPN’s Dan Graziano characterized the opportunities facing Payton Wednesday by stressing that the decorated coach is looking for a team with a solid starting quarterback.

“…I think pretty much every team with an opening is going to want to talk to him,” Graziano said. “Carolina, for example, would probably like to toss a bunch of money to Payton.

“But I have a feeling he’s going to be picky and primarily look for a spot where the QB situation is solid. So I think a lot of people are linking him to a potential Chargers opening. People would line up to coach Justin Herbert if that job became available.

“If not there, I’ve been told to keep Arizona in mind as a potential Payton destination (again, assuming there’s an opening there). And you pointed out well that an interested team should actually pay the Saints compensation for Payton since he’s still under contract with New Orleans. I think it’s even less likely that NFC South rivals Carolina would stand a chance.

Previously, Payton told ESPN that he’s waiting for the “right situation” before returning to coaching.

“If the right situation arises, I would definitely be interested,” he said. “And there’s no such thing as utopia, if you will, when it comes to teams, but if I felt like it was the right situation, I’d have an interest in it. All in all, that could come in a year, that could come in two years.’

Payton in particular, who has a 152-89 record over 15 seasons, is looking for “functional ownership.” [and] front office.’

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