We're not talking much at the moment about potential candidates to replace Colts head coach Chuck Pagano because, well, there's plenty to talk about with this coaching staff, much less potential replacements. At this point, though, it's looking pretty clear that Pagano won't be the Colts' coach in 2016, and a coaching change was just made this week with the firing of offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.
Earlier this year, there was a report from NFL Media's Albert Breer that suggested that owner Jim Irsay "might be ready to go big-game hunting" with his next head coaching search, indicating that Irsay would be looking for an established coach to come in and take over. Then a month ago, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Colts (and Dolphins) might be among those teams interested in inquiring about the availability of Saints head coach Sean Payton after the season. Payton is an established head coach who would fit the bill of a "big-game" hire and who could help Andrew Luck and the team's offense.
Perhaps the biggest question so far has been whether or not Payton would even be available for the Colts to pursue, but a report this morning from NFL Media's Ian Rapoport indicated that he very well may be.
#Saints coach Sean Payton's contract has a "change of control" clause, per 3 sources. If Tom Benson is not in charge, he could be free— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 8, 2015
If Sean Payton wanted to be a coaching free agent after this year, I'm told the #Saints would be inclined to let him out of his contract.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 8, 2015
Of course, the key now could be whether Payton wants to stay in New Orleans with Drew Brees and the offense they've built there, but at the same time, his mentor Bill Parcells is known to say that it's better to leave too early than to overstay your welcome. Payton could choose to go along with that opinion and leave the Saints, and if that does happen he'll have several teams interested in his services.
The Colts, however, would have a pretty convincing chip that they could throw in to the discussion that could intrigue Payton (or any other coach, really): Andrew Luck. When you have a quarterback as talented as Luck (even though he's struggling this year), it will intrigue several coaches, and for an offensive coach like Sean Payton that could be especially true. With the Saints, his offense has never been the problem, as the unit hasn't finished worse than sixth in the league in yardage, in fact finishing first in five of his eight seasons. He's in his ninth season with New Orleans and has an 84-52 record, plus a Super Bowl ring.
It's way too early to begin predicting who will end up being the head coach of the Colts in 2016, but things are beginning to shape up so that we now could have an idea of who will be available and sought-after. And if Rapoport's report this morning is true about the Saints being willing to let Payton leave, you'd have to think that would pique the interest of Colts owner Jim Irsay.