Saints expected to let Sean Payton explore options

Other NFL teams believe that the New Orleans Saints will grant permission for coach Sean Payton to speak with them about head-coaching vacancies this week, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Schefter reported that Payton and GM Mickey Loomis are expected to meet this week, and other teams are waiting to see what results. If Payton is allowed to speak with other teams, the issue would then become compensation.

Payton still has two years remaining on his contract, so the Saints and any interested teams would have to agree on the level of reimbursement if Payton leaves.

History has provided a wide range of examples. Jon Gruden fetched two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million in cash when he was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002. Herm Edwards cost only a fourth-round pick when he was traded from the New York Jets to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2006.

Fox’s Jay Glazer, who is close to Payton, also weighed in with a report Sunday, saying there is too much still up in the air to place Payton in the “leaving” category. Glazer reported that perhaps Payton will stay if Loomis decides to make certain changes, while the Saints might decide to let Payton go if a team offers the right compensation.

My own impression is that both sides are willing to explore a change after Payton’s 10-year run in New Orleans and his first set of back-to-back losing seasons -- but it’s not a case where divorce is inevitable.

Both sides can afford to be picky. The Saints still believe in Payton’s ability to lead their rebuilding efforts. And Payton will be hard-pressed to find the same level of power and authority he has in New Orleans.

However, the Saints won’t force Payton to stay if he truly wants to move on. And there are some attractive jobs likely to come open, including the Indianapolis Colts -- assuming the right team is interested and willing to pay New Orleans’ asking price.