Sean Payton open to listening to opportunities

Thursday night's game in New Orleans has put Saints coach Sean Payton's future in the spotlight. We have been wondering aloud if it's time for the Saints to move on, and Payton is open to making a change.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday on NFL Network's Around the NFL that Payton is expected to receive some inquiries from other teams, and that Payton would be "open to" listening.

Rapoport cites people familiar with Payton's thinking that said Payton is open to listening to opportunities. The talks could wind up turning into nothing, but it doesn't sound like Payton has closed the door on leaving. Of course, it may not be up to him. He has two years left on his contract in New Orleans and he's not going anywhere if the Saints are dead set against it.

If the Saints and Payton agreed to part ways, New Orleans could be compensated for it. League rules allow for teams to give permission to coaches in the offseason to explore other opportunities. If the Saints and another team were to agree on compensation, Payton could be released from his contract and sign a new deal with that other team.

Payton addressed an ESPN report Monday that the Miami Dolphins would be among the teams interested in him, saying that these reports come out every year and that he loves New Orleans. (As everyone should.) Rapoport noted that Payton did not take the opportunity to say he had no interest in other jobs. He didn't say there's no possibility he's leaving. Essentially, it was a non-denial denial.

If the Saints don't turn this season around, Payton will have to continue to address the topic. Barring a run to playoff contention, expect some ornery news conference answers to go along with increasing chatter that this could be Payton's final year in New Orleans.

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