If you're not used to the routine yet this year, it seems like most Sunday mornings we get some sort of report or update on the Chuck Pagano situation in Indianapolis. There was the report that people close to Pagano believe he'll be coaching elsewhere next year. There was the report that Pagano doesn't have the autonomy to make changes to his coaching staff. There was the report that Pagano has doubts that he will be back with the Colts. And all of these reports have come since we learned about the rift between the front office and the head coach. Even if you don't believe all of the reports, the volume of them says one thing: where there's smoke, there's fire. In other words, there's likely a lot of truth to these reports about the rift between Pagano and Ryan Grigson.
This morning, we got a different kind of report: another coach mentioned as a guy the Colts could target next year. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported this morning that multiple teams, including the Miami Dolphins, are expected to inquire about the availability of current Saints head coach Sean Payton after the season. Interesting, Schefter said that league sources also mentioned the Colts as a possible suitor as well. Here's what Schefter wrote this morning:
The Colts also have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Payton, according to league sources.
To be clear, the main emphasis of the report was on the Dolphins, but that could simply be because they are the team with the head coach opening after firing Joe Philbin earlier this week. It could be hard to get information on the Colts' coaching search since, well, it hasn't even begun yet and it's not even certain (albeit likely) that it will even take place. So that's likely the reason for the Dolphins being the main emphasis, but it seems that league sources think the Colts could inquire about Payton's availability after the season as well if Chuck Pagano is not retained.
Of course, Schefter said that it remains to be seen whether the Saints would listen to these offers. But that might not stop teams from at least asking about the longtime Saints head coach. With New Orleans 1-3 this year, it has led to some whispers about the team's future. Payton is in his ninth season as head coach of the Saints, and he has turned them from basement-dweller to legitimate contender, going 81-51 during his tenure with five playoff appearances, a 6-4 playoff record, and a Super Bowl title (beating the Colts to get it). While with the Saints, his offense has never finished worse than sixth in the league in yardage, leading the league in yardage in five of his first eight seasons with the team. He has built a powerful offense and has had success with the Saints, which makes it understandable why other teams might want to inquire of him.
At this point, I still think it sounds unlikely that the Saints would let Payton go, but there are a lot of games still to go, and if some team makes a nice offer after the season, perhaps New Orleans would consider it. Could that team be the Colts? According to Schefter's report, it wouldn't be a surprise if they're one of those teams to inquire. There was a report not too long ago that Colts owner Jim Irsay could be ready to go big-game hunting for his next head coaching hire, and Sean Payton would certainly fit the bill.