Cardinals might have to part with package of draft picks or players if they hire Sean Payton

The Arizona Cardinals will interview Sean Payton for their vacant head coaching position at some point and whether they’ve hired their next general manager by then or not, they’ll have to be prepared to negotiate what is expected to be a pricy compensation package with the New Orleans Saints in Payton ends up as their choice.

Though he stepped down as coach of the Saints following the 2021 season, Payton still has two more years remaining on his contract and New Orleans will be out to get all it can in return for his services. The presumption has been that it will cost any team that hires him a first-round draft pick, at minimum.

Arizona presently holds the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft. Would the Cardinals seriously consider dealing that pick away to the Saints – and maybe even more – in exchange for the rights to hire Payton, 59?

Sean Payton coached the New Orleans Saints from 2006-21, winning a Super Bowl following the 2009 season.

Sean Payton coached the New Orleans Saints from 2006-21, winning a Super Bowl following the 2009 season.

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“I want the best for him. I do. We do, collectively as an organization,” Mickey Loomis, the Saints’ executive vide president and general manager, told reporters on Friday. “He gave everything that he could possibly give to the New Orleans Saints and took us to heights that the organization and team never achieved before, so I absolutely want the best for him.

“But I also recognize that he’s a valuable asset. His contract is a valuable asset to our club, and it’s our duty to maximize that. Look, I think between the quarterback of the team and a head coach, no one impacts winning more than those two guys in any building. So, I know what he brings to the table, and I know that’s really valuable. And it’s our obligation to maximize that value if he chooses to coach again within that time frame where we have those rights.”

Payton led the Saints to a 152-89 record and nine trips to the postseason in his 15 seasons in New Orleans, which include a Super Bowl victory during the 2009 season. His teams won seven division titles. What might it cost for a club to acquire his services?

“We haven’t settled on exactly what the compensation is going to be,” Loomis said, adding of the team interested in Payton, “They’re well aware there is going to be compensation.”

Payton also has interviews lined up with the Broncos and Texans. Houston holds the second overall pick and Denver, which traded its own first-round selection to Seattle in the Russell Wilson trade, will pick in the bottom third of the first round upon acquiring it from the 49ers via the Dolphins.

In 2002, the Buccaneers traded two first-round picks and two second-round picks to the aiders, along with $8 million in cash, for coach Jon Gruden. In 1999, however, it only cost the Seahawks a second-round pick to snatch coach Mike Holmgren away from the Packers.

Sean Payton announces his resignation as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in January 2022.

Sean Payton announces his resignation as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in January 2022.

If the Cardinals zero in on Payton as their replacement for Kliff Kingsbury, they’ll have to be creative in their negotiations with Loomis and the Saints. Because the No. 3 pick this year is so valuable – and it could help them land Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr., the top-rated prospect in the entire draft – Arizona could offer New Orleans its second-round pick.

The Cardinals might also offer a trade package that includes dealing star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Saints. Hopkins is being linked to multiple trade rumors since the end of the regular season and the Cardinals reportedly are willing to listen to offers to move on from his hefty salary.

Considering how delicate any compensation negotiations could get with Loomis and the Saints, it probably behooves Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill to hire a new GM first and let that person deal with the Saints, assuming the next GM is even in favor of hiring Payton.

Bidwill has already interviewed five people for general manager – in-house candidates Adrian Wilson and Quentin Harris, former Giants GM Jerry Reese, Bears assistant GM Ian Cunningham, Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz and Titans director of player personnel Monti Ossenfort. Bidwill also has requested an interview with 49ers director of player personnel Ran Carthon, which could take place on Monday.

Besides Payton, the Cardinals have requested interviews with 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans and former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, now a senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach for the Steelers, for their vacant head coaching position. The Cardinals are also scheduled to meet with their own defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph, at some point in the next few days.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Sean Payton hiring could involve costly compensation to Saints

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