Price and risk makes Panthers quest for Sean Payton complicated

(Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports) Sean Payton
(Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports) Sean Payton /

David Tepper’s pursuit to potentially make Sean Payton his next head coach represents an extremely risky move by the Carolina Panthers. 

The Carolina Panthers’ search for a new head coach was put on hold following the tragic events surrounding Charlotte FC this week. Meetings with Sean Payton, Ken Dorsey, and Mike Kafka were postponed following the shocking death of Anton Walkes – a much-loved defender that perished after a boating accident.

This was the right call for David Tepper to make as the soccer club’s owner, too. Whether it prevents the Panthers from landing their guy is irrelevant.

Some things transcend sport.

Carolina is planning to resume interviews at some stage. First on the list will probably be Payton, who is the big fish and the most coveted coach in this particular cycle.

Carolina Panthers face a complicated situation with Sean Payton

Payton and Tepper were set to discuss the possibility of him joining the Panthers in Manhattan on Friday. Something that’s caused significant and divisive debate among the team’s loyal fanbase.

There’s no doubting Payton’s credentials. However, the compensation will likely be extortionate to get the Super Bowl winner out of his contract with the New Orleans Saints.

Parting ways with substantial, high-end draft capital is bad enough. Doing this sort of deal with an NFC South rival is even worse.

While there’s every chance Payton would turn the Panthers into legitimate contenders, one cannot ignore his previous playoff failings with the Saints following their Super Bowl triumph. A series of early exits – two inflicted by the Minnesota Vikings – ended postseason journeys before they started in the final years before quarterback Drew Brees’ retirement.

Some also accuse Payton of stepping down when the going got tough. There is also the Bountygate scandal hanging over the coach that hasn’t been forgotten by Carolina’s faithful support.

Reports at the time suggested that Cam Newton was on the Saints’ hit list compiled by defensive coordinator Greg Williams. Something that also laid waste to Brett Favre’s hopes of gaining an elusive first Super Bowl ring for the Vikings along the way.

This is a complicated situation for Tepper. One that could see him go in a different direction when it’s all said and done.

Although some speculation emerged about Tepper’s willingness to do whatever it takes to get his guy, Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network recently revealed that Tepper has some skepticism about handing over a lucrative draft package to the Saints for Payton’s services. This is entirely understandable in the circumstances.

"“I don’t know that to be the case regarding the Panthers. I believe David Tepper is someone who is going to be very skeptical about having to give up multiple high draft picks to get a coach on top of paying him top dollar and all the other things Sean Payton is going to want.”"

Payton is also high on the Denver Broncos’ list of options after a positive meeting between all parties. The coach also received a call from quarterback Russell Wilson, who is said to have stated his support and excitement to work with the respected figure.

Whichever way Tepper and the Panthers decide to go, it needs to be relatively quick considering the number of coordinator vacancies across the NFL currently. However, the billionaire is dealing with more important matters right now as a support mechanism for a soccer team enveloped in shock and mourning.

One can never predict with guaranteed certainty what Tepper is thinking. But after some serious mismanagement of team affairs since purchasing the Panthers, the urgency to get his next head coach correct cannot be understated.

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