Cardinals, Texans ask for permission to speak to former Saints coach Sean Payton about head-coaching job

Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is getting a lot of interest this offseason for potential coaching jobs around the league.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton continues to get a lot of attention around the league. Days after it was reported the Denver Broncos were interested, two other teams have requested permission to speak to Payton about a head-coaching role.

Those teams are the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans. Both franchises fired their coaches — Kliff Kingsbury and Lovie Smith, respectively — shortly after the end of the regular season.

The Cardinals received permission to speak with Payton, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

The Texans requested permission to speak with Payton, per Peter Schrager of Fox Sports.

Payton stepped down as the Saints' head coach last January. He was replaced by former Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. Though Payton did not coach during the 2022 NFL season, he is still under contract with the Saints. New Orleans still holds Payton's rights and need to give approval to other teams looking to interview him. If another NFL team decides to hire Payton, they will need to send back compensation to the Saints.

The Saints stand to gain quite a bit in exchange for Payton. Prior to leaving the Saints, Payton was considered one of the top coaches in the NFL. He put up a 152-89 record in 15 seasons with the Saints. The team made the playoffs in nine of those seasons, winning the Super Bowl in Payton's fourth year with the franchise. Payton is regarded as one of the premier offensive head coaches in the league, though he did spend 14 years coaching Drew Brees, a soon-to-be first-ballot NFL Hall of Famer. In his first season without Brees, Payton led the Saints to a 9-8 record with Ian Book, Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian and Jameis Winston under center. New Orleans finished second in the NFC South, but did not make the playoffs.

Payton should receive even more interest as teams continue to fire coaches. Payton can't officially interview with teams until Jan. 17, a day after the wild-card round ends. It wouldn't be a shock to see a coach of at least one of those teams get fired after a first-round loss in the playoffs.

Payton already has a wide range of situations to choose from if he speaks to the Broncos, Cardinals and Texans. Denver has Russell Wilson, who is looking to get his career back on track after an uncharacteristic down year. Arizona has the explosive Kyler Murray, who has elite talent with room to grow. The Texans will likely select a potential franchise quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft.

If Payton wants to win now, taking over the best roster could be the play. That could make a team that loses in the wild-card round more appealing, but only if that team is willing to part with their current head coach.