What if we have it all wrong? What if we have it all backwards?

In trying to make sense of all the reports that have come out regarding the potential trade of Sean Payton, one scenario presented itself that hadn’t before. What if this isn’t about the end of the Payton era but rather about ensuring it’s continuation? What if this is all about an extension? The idea seemed a little crazy to me too at first but the more I thought it through, the more it fit the situation.

Over the past few days, Drew Brees has talked about a long-term plan that was put in motion to ensure the Saints would have a competitive base so that they could compete for championship moving forward. The willingness to trade away a star tight end like Jimmy Graham and an up and coming receiver like Kenny Stills in exchange for a top-tier center and a veteran thumper at linebacker would appear to be the first moves toward that plan. Drafting Andrus Peat, Stephone Anthony, Hau’oli Kikaha and Garrett Grayson also appear to be moves aimed at building the future of the team. With such a significant investment in the future of the team, it makes no sense to get rid of the coach that had taken part in designing it all one season later.

Payton is currently headed into the fourth year of a five year deal with the team. When asked earlier this season on multiple occasions, Payton expressed his desire to stay in New Orleans. “I love it here, I’m close to my children, I just built a brand new place here,” Payton said back in mid-October. “This is where I see myself and I’ve said that now for however many years.” Since he made those comments the team’s performance improved noticeably. Why would he suddenly change his mind about all of it?

Reports about Payton’s possible departure have also mentioned the team’s unexpectedly low asking price of a second round pick. By all accounts, Payton is expected to be one of the hottest names on the market this off-season if the Saints are serious about entertaining offers. It simply makes no sense for the Saints to settle for offers as low as a single second rounder when they could command a king’s ransom. However, the low price does make sense if the ultimate goal is an extension for Payton.

In addition to the low price reports, there have also been reports that Payton has requested permission to speak to other teams. Interviewing with other teams and hearing their offers would help the Saints and Payton to establish his current market value. The lower than expected price serves to help lure in more teams to take a run at Payton in hopes of getting more offers for a better idea of his value. The persistent reports all season long that Payton and the Saints may part ways after the season provide the perfect opportunity to dangle a trade possibility in order to get offer numbers from other teams. With reports that Brees would “absolutely” be open to an extension, it only makes sense to extend Payton as well to keep the trio of Brees, Payton and Mickey Loomis together long enough to put their plans for the future in motion.

As Brees said, “a plan was put in place throughout last off-season as to how we were going to build a foundation by which to make a run at it in the future.” Any plan put in place before this season would have certainly involved Payton as both a planner and a piece. While the 2015 season had its issues, it also produce another dominant offense and a handful of new stars wearing black & gold. While the season wasn’t perfect, there was nothing significant enough that should cause the Saints to go from planning a future with Payton at the helm to wanting to cut him loose. Extending his deal with the team simply makes sense. Is The Sean Payton Situation Really What It Seems?

Sean Payton