On Monday night while announcing a contract extension for head coach Chuck Pagano, Colts owner Jim Irsay said, "Look, I could have walked someone in that door tonight or tomorrow night and have them come walking in with eight-figures a year on themselves or whatever and say, ‘I'm making the big splash.' Look, if that was the best for us, believe me, I would do it."
It turns out he may have been closer to doing just that than was previously thought. According to the Terre Haute Tribune Star's Tom James, the Colts talked to Saints head coach Sean Payton before ending up extending Pagano (note: an earlier report, which has been corrected by James, identified the Colts as having been in negotiations with Payton). ESPN has confirmed the report that the Colts expressed interest in Payton on Monday.
Payton, of course, is rumored to be on the way out in New Orleans and could be available in a trade. He had long been thought to be a target of Colts owner Jim Irsay, as he would fit the bill on a big name coach who has established himself in the NFL. If the Colts had indeed fired Chuck Pagano, Sean Payton likely would have topped the list of potential replacements for Irsay. It sounds like Jim Irsay was talking with Sean Payton and the Saints about a potential trade that would send Payton to New Orleans, but in the end Irsay decided that it was time to extend Chuck Pagano.
UPDATE: Other reports say the Colts never talked with Payton:
Don't believe this is true RT @ProFootballTalk: Colts talked to Sean Payton's reps before committing to Pagano https://t.co/EeJn5VaVju— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 5, 2016
There was no contact between the Colts and Sean Payton or his agent, contrary to a report. Irsay's decision had nothing to do with Payton...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 5, 2016
There was not a single conversation between Irsay and Payton's agent, Don Yee. Payton's situation with Saints still in flux— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 5, 2016