Payton contract hinges on Loomis’ future as GM

daniels    There’s a lot at stake Sunday for the Dallas Cowboys when they host the New Orleans Saints.
    The Cowboys are one of three 8-6 teams atop the NFC East. And if they make the playoffs, there is no way Dallas owner Jerry Jones can fire head coach Jason Garrett – and hire Saints coach Sean Payton.
    My take: Payton and Jones would be a bad match.
    But, if the Dallas job is open, it only drives up the market for the hottest potential coaching free agent in the NFL.
    What is Payton looking for? Money is only a part of it. As the Payton contract talks with the Saints potentially drag on, I think there is a lot more to the potential stalemate than just cash.
    Let’s connect the dots. The reason Payton’s contract was voided by the NFL was because of a clause in the deal. Payton could opt out of his contract if current general manager Mickey Loomis was no longer with the club.
    What Sean Payton wants from Saints owner Tom Benson is some assurances that in the future, Loomis will be there. And that the two of them will be given the autonomy to run the football side of the franchise the way they see fit.
    Loomis and Payton have been an incredibly good match. Loomis is involved but he has set ego aside and given room for one of the league’s most talented coaches to shape his roster.
    I am sure Benson and Payton have had this conversation: “Tom, I love working for you. We have had a great relationship. What happens if your health no longer allows you to run the club? What can you tell me about the future?”
    During his season-long suspension, Payton has been allowed to communicate with one person in the Saints’ organization. That would be his owner.
    In August in Canton, Ohio, Benson told me he would ask Commissioner Roger Goodell to shorten Payton’s year-long hiatus.
    Maybe this week, New Orleans gets an early Christmas present and a start on a comeback season in 2013.
    It would be a great gift for Saints season ticket holders to unwrap. Their edgy, talented coach would be ready to come back and take his considerable swagger to the sidelines at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The welcome home at the Superdome would be considerable.
    During this process, Payton has been portrayed (by some) as a greedy individual who is just looking for the best deal. I think that’s the job of his agent, not Payton’s job.
    When he returns, he will want to look into his football crystal ball with certainty. I think Payton will coach in the NFL for four or five more years, tops.
    Then he will do what many coaches who have won at least one Super Bowl do (see Tony Dungy, Mike Ditka, John Madden).
    Make lots of money in network television.
    Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .