It serves as one of the two major takeaways from Payton's marathon press conference from Wednesday afternoon. Owners everywhere likely had a rapid-switch plan B if Payton was at all in the cards -- Giants owner John Mara admitted to discussing a potential trade for a coach, though left Payton's name out -- but now we could see any slog in the scheduling process begin to speed up.
If owners want experience, Doug Marrone's name shifts closer to the top of the pile. After that, it's Mike Shanahan, Mike Smith, Hue Jackson, Mike Holmgren, Josh McDaniels, Tom Coughlin or Chip Kelly in no particular order.
If owners want proven champions, the pool shrinks even further.
If they want proven winners who can transform a quarterback mid-career, well then, good luck.
This leads to another takeaway: That it sounds like Payton is keeping his transformed quarterback, Drew Brees, and is gearing up for one hell of a run. His press conference was a love letter to the city of New Orleans. It was meandering and shoe-gazing, sure, but it was full of some genuine memories about success and failure and hope that the Saints can turn this around.
We've been hearing a lot about the Saints finally falling apart, especially after they dealt superstar Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks. A lot of smart football people have wondered if 2015 was the last time we'd ever see Payton and Brees on the field together (Brees still has a contract to work out, but Payton all but guaranteed the team would get it done). But maybe it's just the last time we'll see them together in a hapless, train-to-nowhere type of situation. Maybe this was the rock-bottom wakeup call that shakes everyone and makes them realize that there is talent in New Orleans, but time is running out.
"My hair's gotten a little grayer and he's lost some of his, but that's about it," Payton said.
In his press conference, Payton talked about studying the lifespan of a coach's message. Many feel that 10 years is a long time to be in one place, and eventually that message dies out. That thought came with another realization: How many of the people that were here 10 years ago, are really still in this room?
If there's anyone left who is tired of Payton, expect them to be gone this year. New Orleans is not afraid to get rid of talent, they just have a hard time getting it back. So no, Payton will not be starting over with a new team -- but did he really have to leave to make a change in the first place?
"There's more moments, there's more wins, there's more playoffs," Payton said. "I promise you there will be."