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Three weeks after the Los Angeles Rams fired Jeff Fisher, they appear to have their sights set on Sean Payton as a replacement, but if they do try to sign the New Orleans Saints coach, it would probably be expensive in terms of contract and draft picks.
The Rams and Payton are said to have “mutual interest” in being the team’s next head coach, according to sources for Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Both the Rams and Payton face a major obstacle in joining forces since Payton is still under contract with the Saints through 2020. However, it appears that the first parts of that obstacle are already set to be cleared.
Shortly after the NFL Network’s report, Larry Holder of the New Orleans Advocate reported that the Rams are expected to ask the Saints for permission to interview Payton. More importantly, Holder also reports that the Saints general manager Mickey Loomis is open to “trading” Payton after the two discussed his future following the Saints’ regular-season finale on Sunday.
If the Rams do try to sign Payton, asking for permission to interview him is just the first step as they would then have to negotiate a “trade” for Payton. The trade would come in the form of compensation, which typically includes draft picks and possibly cash. That compensation would then have to be approved by the NFL.
Payton was rumored to be interested in several open jobs a year ago, before signing a new five-year, $45 million contract with Saints. According to Rapoport, the Saints are “tiring” of these open flirtations and could be ready to let their Super Bowl-winning coach go, along with the $40 million he is still owed.
Head coaches have switched teams in the past and those precedents suggest it will cost the Rams heavily.
Following the 2001 season, the Raiders traded Jon Gruden to the Buccaneers for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and $8 million. In 1997, the Jets hired Bill Parcells away from the Patriots in exchange for four draft picks, including a first-round pick. Three years later, Bill Belichick resigned as head coach of the Jets after one day and later signed with the Patriots. The Jets were compensated one first-round pick and the two teams also swapped later draft picks.
So it would seem that the starting price for a coach with Payton’s résumé would likely start at one first-round pick and probably go up from there.
That could be problematic for the Rams, who have already traded away their 2017 first-round pick as part of the trade that landed them the first pick in last year’s draft. They used that pick on quarterback Jared Goff. The Rams are also without their third-round pick from that trade in addition to giving up four early picks in last year’s draft. For a team trying to build, giving up even more early draft picks could prove too insurmountable of a cost.
However, if the Rams feel like they are just one good coach away from being a contender, there might not be a price that is too high.