Last year there were constant rumors of the Miami Dolphins looking to trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson. Well, this year, with head coach Sean Payton taking time off and the Dolphins reportedly inquired about him this off-season, it’s fair to wonder if the Dolphins could make a change if things don’t work out with new coach Mike McDaniel? I don’t see that happening, but anything is possible with owner Stephen Ross.
There were reports this off-season that the Dolphins contacted the New Orleans Saints about requesting permission to talk to Payton about the opening head coaching position. There was even a report the Dolphins were willing to give the Saints a first-round pick since they own his rights contractually and would give Payton a 5-year $100 million deal. However, things didn’t get that far, especially after the lawsuit by former Dolphins coach Brian Flores accusing Ross of paying him money to throw games to get the highest draft pick. That idea cooled, and the Dolphins eventually hired McDaniel and Payton resigned as Saints coach to take some time off away from coaching.
Ross is an owner who likes to go for the big name. In 2011, he went after Jim Harbaugh to become the head coach, but he still had a head coach in Tony Sparano and ended up embarrassing him when word leaked of the report. Harbaugh ended up going to the San Franscisco 49ers. He was also instrumental in 2015 in signing prized free agent Ndamukong Suh to the most significant non-quarterback free agent contract at the time. Last year, he did some back-channel work to try to get settlements from Watson’s accusers so the team could make a deal for him and move forward with no negative publicity. Since then, it’s a good thing that never happened with more accusers coming forward.
Payton is a proven head coach who won a Super Bowl with the Saints and has had a lot of success. He’s considered one of the best offensive minds in the game and good with developing quarterbacks. If the Dolphins got off to a bad start or didn’t do well this year with McDaniel, could Ross make a run at Payton if that happened? I wouldn’t put it past him because Ross is unpredictable as an owner. If he had to give up a 1st round pick because the Saints still own his rights, that would be an issue; the Dolphins have two 1st round picks next year.
I’m personally not a Sean Payton fan. Yes, he has won a Super Bowl, but that was 13 years ago, and his Saints teams have had talent only to fall short of getting back.
I would hope Ross gives McDaniel a good chance. Yes, the Dolphins have spent a lot of money and draft picks to upgrade the offense McDaniel wants to incorporate. However, it will take some time to get his players to buy into his new system. He’s also a first-time head coach on any level. The fact that the Dolphins flirted with the idea of going after Payton and that he’s not coaching could make this a potential destination if things don’t go well this year. Then there would be constant questions just like Watson last year because of the flirtation by Ross last year.
It’s a tough spot for McDaniel to be put in potentially in his first year as head coach, but as we know, owners don’t have patience with coaches. They can fire you after one year.