Sean Payton will be a hot commodity for any team looking for a new head coach, but at what cost?

Former Super Bowl-winning coach Sean Payton has every intention of being the head coach of an NFL franchise for the 2023 season. The question now is for which team and for how much?

Payton will command a salary that would make him one of the three highest-paid coaches in the NFL, and not every team owner has the appetite for that. But for those who do, there’s another cost associated with acquiring Payton: draft compensation.

The Saints own Peyton’s rights. Any team that wants to talk to Payton about the coaching vacancy would first have to put together a suitable package for New Orleans that the Saints would accept if Payton were to get the gig. And according to history and executives polled around the league, there’s a huge range of compensation that would be acceptable.

A coaching trade hasn’t taken place since the Jets sent a fourth-round pick to the Chiefs for Herm Edwards in 2006. Back then, trading for coaches was extremely common compared to today’s NFL.

The Patriots traded Bill Parcells to the Jets in 1997 for what ended up being a future first, future second and current third and fourth round picks. Super Bowl-winning head coach Mike Holmgren went from Green Bay to Seattle for a second-round pick. Bill Belichick went from the Jets to the Patriots for what worked as a first round pick and then some.

And in one of the more unique situations, the Raiders sent Jon Gruden to Tampa Bay for two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million in cash.

Nearly every executive interviewed for this story estimated it would cost at least a first-round pick to get Payton.

“I would assume Mickey is shooting for a 1, but that’s not realistic in my opinion,” one executive said. “But you can’t argue with history.”

Said another: “Would ask for a 1 but settle for a 2 and 4 or some equal combination.”

A third said: “I’d ask for what the Raiders got from Tampa.”

A fourth said the price would be different depending on the conference. An AFC team would only need to send a second and third over two seasons, while an NFC team would need to send a first, third and fourth over the next two seasons.

And a fifth noted that they would ask for two first-round picks but could settle for a premium first-round pick if that pick is in or near the top five.

If you believe, as one executive does, that compensation should fall between Belichick and Gruden, that means the Saints should be asking for a first- and second-round pick.

There are currently three teams without a permanent coach: Carolina, Indianapolis and Denver. Arizona, Houston and even New Orleans all have different opening possibilities. Barring a surprising retirement or layoff, it’s hard to imagine more than a half-dozen being available this offseason.

The Broncos have the money to get Payton if he’s interested, but they’ll likely have to give up their recent first-round pick they got in the Bradley Chubb trade. Payton would have to be convinced he could fix Russell Wilson, too, because his contract calls for Wilson to be around at least 2023 and possibly 2024 (barring some extremely painful maneuvers.)

In Indianapolis and Carolina, retaining interim coaches is a very real possibility, though for very different reasons. Colts owner Jim Irsay is strongly hinting at promoting Jeff Saturday to permanent head coach once the interview process is complete. In Charlotte, team owner David Tepper saw Steve Wilks take a moribund team (sans Christian McCaffrey) and become a division contender as players openly campaigned for Wilks.

Tepper, at one point, had a crush on Peyton, but that love was reportedly not reciprocated. A team source wondered what Tepper’s appetite for Payton would be considering the huge contract, plus the huge control, plus the huge draft-pick compensation it would take to take him to an NFC South rival.

Everyone knows Payton would be interested in the Cowboys and Chargers jobs. The thing is, both are unlikely to open, at least right now. Mike McCarthy will have the Cowboys travel to the NFC South champion on Super Wild Card weekend where they will be a favorite. But a playoff collapse with such a good team could make Jerry Jones — 80 years old and more than a quarter-century removed from even a conference title game appearance — antsy for a change.

Brandon Staley has the Chargers in the playoffs for the first time in his tenure with two weeks left in the season. The franchise also isn’t known for having deep pockets and big contracts with Derwin James and JC Jackson last offseason plus the richest contract in franchise history to sign Justin Herbert in 2023 means Dean Spanos may not be very excited about paying a fired coach and a very expensive one, too.

Arizona could open up, but their quarterback might not be ready for Week 1 of the 2023 season. Payton might not want to go to that organization anyway. Houston has its own organizational issues, but at least it has a number of picks to send to New Orleans while retaining enough to secure its franchise quarterback of the future come April.

And then, there’s always home. There’s a chance — albeit a slim one — that Payton could just return to New Orleans. He’s under contract, and the Saints fell short in the first year of Dennis Allen’s four-year deal. This option seems very unlikely, but it should be noted.

If Payton returns to the sidelines in 2023, he will cost his new team at least a first-round pick and quite possibly more. In some cases, these would be options that the team is unable to afford at this time. That draft capital is what could be used to get the quarterback Payton would need on the roster — unless, of course, he goes after free agent-to-be Tom Brady.

No matter what happens, you have to pay the cost to be the boss.

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