A massive news bomb was dropped in the NFL world on Tuesday as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Sean Payton would be stepping away from the New Orleans Saints. Saints insider Nick Underhill followed that up by reporting that Payton is retiring, although he could pull a Bruce Arians and return after a year if an intriguing job opens up. While this does not seem to impact the LA Chargers much, it could have a domino effect on the Bolts coaching staff as well.
The Chargers are connected to the New Orleans Saints through Joe Lombardi, who was the long-time quarterbacks coach in New Orleans. If anyone knows the Payton-style offense it is Lombardi and he brought his version of that to the Chargers in 2021.
And while he is unpopular among some fans, Lombardi did a great job as the Chargers were one of the five-best offensive teams in the league by just about every metric. Obviously having Justin Herbert helps, but Lombardi did a great job as well.
Some Charger fans still want to see Lombardi leave the team and they could very well get their wish because of this Payton decision. While there are more likely candidates, we have learned to never say never in the NFL.
Joe Lombardi could leave the LA Chargers to replace Sean Payton on the New Orleans Saints.
If the New Orleans Saints want to keep the culture that Sean Payton established in the franchise then Lombardi could be a candidate to hire as the team's next head coach. Of course, there is always the possibility of the Saints wanting to move in a completely different direction, but you cannot blame them for wanting to emulate the formula that was so successful for so many years.
Lombardi is the guy for the job if they want someone to take over what Payton was doing and carry it on into the future. Lombardi has already interviewed for other head coaching vacancies so he is obviously considered to be head coach material after his strong season in LA.
Another candidate for the position is Dennis Allen. Allen is the defensive coordinator of the Saints and has also been getting head coaching looks. However, since Payton informed the Saints so late in the process, the team could fall behind to another team that offers Allen a job first. That could lead to a scramble drill in New Orleans, which makes Lombardi even more likely.
If Lombardi does get the offer then he should leave the Chargers for the team that brought him up as a coach. There are only 32 head coaching jobs in the league and he would be foolish to turn it down.
Is Lombardi the most likely candidate for the position? Not at all. But don't be surprised if the Chargers are suddenly thrust into an offensive coordinator search because of Sean Payton's decision.