During an otherwise slow and uneventful Tuesday in the NFL, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton became the talk of the league. Payton, a former Dallas Cowboys assistant, announced that he would be stepping down from his position with the Saints.

The news of Payton retiring caught the attention of everybody that follows the NFL. Payton is a Super Bowl-winning coach that has earned the status of one of the best coaches in the game. It comes as a bit of a surprise for him to walk away after 15 seasons.

Payton is set to take next season off, but there is real possibility that he returns to the profession in 2023. If that were to happen, the Dallas Cowboys seem to be the logical destination for Payton.

The now former New Orleans Saints head coach was on staff with the Dallas Cowboys from 2003 to 2005. He served as the quarterback coach under Bill Parcells. New Orleans hired Payton away in 2006, where he coached for the last 15 seasons.

Jerry Jones has made it known how much that he hated letting Payton get away. The Cowboys owner has reportedly attempted to hire Payton previously, and it seems to be an ideal fit for the two parties.


Dallas Cowboys
Jan 2, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy (right) gestures from the sideline during the game against the Arizona Cardinals at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

For now though, Mike McCarthy remains the head man in Dallas. McCarthy has posted a 18-15 record in two seasons with the Cowboys. The first of those two seasons was heavily impacted by COVID-19 and a season-ending injury to Dak Prescott.

Jones voiced his frustrations with the current coaching staff following the Wildcard loss to the San Francisco 49ers. That led to some speculation that Jones could make a move at head coach this offseason.

With Payton retiring and Kellen Moore expected to return as offensive coordinator, it appears more likely that McCarthy will be back for another season. However, the news of Payton stepping down takes the heat on McCarthy to an entirely different level.

The pressure is always on for whoever the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys is. It is the biggest brand in all of professional sports, much less the NFL. The Cowboys are always under the microscope, regardless of how good or bad the on-field play is.

As good as the Cowboys were for much of the 2021 season that saw Dallas win the NFC East and earn the three-seed in the NFC Playoffs, the playoff performance was the latest disappointing finish.

McCarthy was hired to elevate the Cowboys in the playoffs, and he has not done that. Jones and much of the fan base is frustrated and hungrier than ever for a winner. Another disappointing playoff performance next season could spell the end for McCarthy in Dallas.


Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones
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It is likely that Sean Payton will take the upcoming season off and even join a pregame show on FOX. However, now that Payton is not working for the Saints, he is free to talk to whoever he wants without the risk of being hit with tampering.

Though the Cowboys — or any other interested franchise — would have to execute a trade for Sean Payton because he is technically under contract with the Saints until 2024, it feels very likely that Jerry Jones would do whatever it takes to get his guy in the building.

It seems that McCarthy would need to get the Cowboys to at least the NFC Championship next season to keep his gig. Anything short of that would likely lead to Jones wanting to make a change, especially with Payton being available.

All of this is speculation. The news of Payton is still fresh, and it remains to be seen what his next step will be. That said, the pressure is definitely on for Mike McCarthy to win big in 2022.

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