Rarely do coaches finish their contracts and become free agents. More frequently, but still not all that often, coaches walk away from a contract with remaining years and resurface elsewhere.
The latest coach to leave one team and land elsewhere, Sean Payton, re-establishes the formula for high-end coaches who want to move on. For Payton, it was a matter of taking a year off, and then hoping that another team would give the Saints satisfactory compensation for a coach who was never going to coach for them again.
It’s a situation the NFL’s best coaches should be watching. We don’t need to name names for fear of missing a name and pissing off a coach who thinks he should have been mentioned. Still, those who would be in demand elsewhere have a formula for making it happen.
The first step, of course, is to leave their current team. That’s not easy to do. Especially with no clear and obvious landing spot.
But Payton pulled it off. And, frankly, but for the Brian Flores lawsuit, Payton would have ended up in Miami last year, without missing a beat.
That’s what his mentor, Bill Parcells, did after Super Bowl XXXI, leaving the Patriots for the Jets.
Bottom line? If a great head coach truly wants to change teams, it’s really not as hard as it looks. Especially if the coach is willing to walk away and perhaps sit out for a full season.