John P. Lopez – Con err: The pros, pros, pros and pros of Sean Payton and the Texans

Jan 25, 2022; Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton speaks during a press conference at Ochsner Sports Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

John P. Lopez – Con err: The pros, pros, pros and pros of Sean Payton and the Texans

By John P. Lopez

Maybe it’s PTDSD – Post Texans Dysfunction Stress Disorder.

Maybe Texans fans are struggling with good, old-fashioned feelings of inadequacy. Or insecurities. Or doubt.

Or maybe we’re all just living in a Bizarro Capital One Commercial, where making Sean Payton the next Texans coach should be as easy as picking Charles Barkley first in a kids’ pick-up game or making Slash a no-brainer new guy in the band.

While it’s understandable why Texans fans believe they’ll never have nice things, given the organization’s recent debilitating and dysfunctional history, don’t overthink this. This is easy, people. This is easy, Cal and Hannah McNair.

Snagging Payton from the New Orleans Saints for a mid-first-round draft pick won’t just change the entire complexion of the Texans, it will change the trajectory of the organization and how it’s viewed. And it’s a very real, very attainable, very make-it-happen possibility.

Anyone who thinks otherwise, well, snap out of it. If Payton is serious about bringing his magic to Houston, and it most certainly seems as if he is, the pros far outweigh the cons – and we’ll get to those – by a wide margin.

Yes, every other candidate among those the Texans have and will interview are nothing like the figurehead puppets that occupied the office the last two years. Unlike David Culley and Lovie Smith, these guys are good. They’re qualified. But they all have questions.

Payton does not.

Considered one of the sharpest offensive minds the game has known, Payton would not just check that box for a team in desperate need of a franchise quarterback and an identity, he would check all the boxes. He would bring the accountability, culture and direction that made him a Super Bowl winner and quality judge of talent.

Now, for those alleged “cons” that continue to be tossed about by the ill-informed and/or PTDSD victims.

What about his age? He’s 59!

Among the widely-recognized best coaches in the NFL are the likes of Andy Reid, Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Doug Pederson, John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin. Their ages: 64, 70, 70, 59, 60 and 51. The idea that Sean Payton is some kind of two-year, quick-fix hired gun is ludicrous. Hire him and he’s here for six years or seven years, if not much more.

But Payton quit on New Orleans!

That’s all you got? Payton coached 15 years in New Orleans, won a Super Bowl, three Coach of the Year awards and then decided to step away to regroup, refresh, and even out the door was on-the-record as wanting to return to coaching.

No way you should give up the No. 12 pick for a coach.


Let’s look at each No. 12 overall pick of the last 10-years. And let’s ask ourselves, how many games would the No. 12 overall pick win for you as opposed to how many games Payton could win for you.

2014 – Odell Beckham. While a three-time Pro Bowler and 2014 Rookie of the Year, Beckham had five productive seasons. Five. He was a valuable asset that made spectacular plays, but more important than Payton? Nah.

2015 – Danny Shelton. Largely a disappointment, Shelton currently is on his fifth team.

2016 – Sheldon Rankins. He turned into a decent player, but not even remotely close to the value Payton brings.

2017 – Deshaun Watson. OK. Here’s the one. Potentially, Watson’s value would trump a coach of Payton’s ability. Potentially.

2018 – Vita Vea. A good interior defensive player, but one Pro Bowl and it would be a stretch how much he would change one game, much less match what Payton brings.

2019 – Rashan Gary. Meh. He has had one good season in four years and is nothing close to what the Packers thought he would be.

2020 – Henry Ruggs III. Out of the league.

2021 – Micah Parsons. He’s a true game-changer and a perennial Pro Bowler, but a bigger franchise-factor than Sean Payton? Nope.

2022 – Jameson Williams. To be determined on the Lions’ receiver, whose rookie season was disjointed as he recovered from an injury.

There are only three players drafted at No. 12 in the last 10-years you could even remotely argue would bring more value and more wins than Payton — Beckham, Watson and Parsons. That’s a 30-percent chance based on the last 10 drafts. The chances of Payton succeeding and making the Texans something they’ve never been are much, much higher.

What about Payton talking about the dysfunction he saw in ownership on a Zoom call? He’s just playing the Texans, right?

Are we even sure the Wednesday commentary by national radio host Colin Cowherd even was referring to the Texans? Yes, the Texans spoke with Payton via Zoom. But you want dysfunction? Other Payton suitors haven’t exactly been pictures of stability. Carolina owner David Tepper has been called dysfunctional multiple times. He hastily fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady. He fired Matt Rhule. He’s been called an owner that, “can’t get out of his own way.” Then there’s the Walton-Penner family in Denver. They have owned the Broncos for less than a year, never having been in the NFL before. They also oversaw an organization with the overwhelmed and ultimately fired Nathaniel Hackett at coach and quarterback Russell Wilson, who they’ll pay gadjillion dollars to be the biggest disappointment in the league.

Yeah, but the Texans just can’t offer what other teams can offer, right?


What the Texans can offer Payton, whose rights still belong to the Saints, in terms of draft equity, salary cap and long-term resources is head-spinning. Other suitors have much less to offer the Saints and much less of a cupboard of resources for Payton.

The Colts have the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft. They have eight draft picks and $13.2 million in cap space. The Cardinals have the third overall pick and five draft picks altogether, along with $14.6 million in cap space.

The Panthers have the ninth overall pick, seven draft picks and minus-$7.6 million in cap space. The Broncos own the 29th overall pick, six draft picks overall and $9.3 million in cap space.

Meanwhile, the Texans have the No. 2 overall pick, the No. 12 overall pick, 12 draft picks altogether and a whopping $40.2 million in cap space. It’s not close.

Why would Sean Payton not be interested? Why would fans and most important Cal and Hannah McNair hesitate?

Whatever it takes. Change the future. Bring Payton to Houston. As the Capital One guy says: Yeah. As easy as that.

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