Sean Payton Says “I Suppose” to Vikings

Aug 23, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton looks on during the second half against Jacksonville Jaguars at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings fans don’t like Sean Payton, and he probably doesn’t like the Minnesota Vikings.

So when Payton started interviewing all the Vikings prospective defensive coordinators this week after landing the Denver Broncos head coaching job, Vikings fans’ eyeballs rolled to the back of their skulls.

Sean Payton Says “I Suppose” to Vikings

Indeed, Minnesota has spoken with Brian Flores from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Sean Desai from the Seattle Seahawks as external candidates for the open DC job. Too, the Vikings were reportedly interested in Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell have serious ties to the young coach.

Sean Payton Says
Sep 21, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton before an NFL game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

But Payton came along this week and tabbed Flores and Desai for interviews while Evero was in limbo waiting for Denver to permit him to speak with Minnesota. Desai even withdrew his name from the Vikings DC hat, as Mike Klis from 9News in Denver tweeted Friday, “Not only have Broncos requested an interview for Seattle associate HC Sean Desai for DC but Desai has withdrawn from consideration for MIN DC job, per source. Desai interviewed with the Vikings last week. Wants to concentrate on DEN. Vic Fangio recommended Denver to Desai.”

On Saturday, though, Payton figuratively said “I suppose” to the Vikings when news hit that Evero would interview with his former coworkers, Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweeted Saturday evening, “Sources: The Broncos are allowing defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero out of his contract and he’s expected to interview with the Vikings. He’s considered a strong candidate in Minnesota, along with Brian Flores.”

the Vikings DC Search
Dec 23, 2018; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Evero can now reasonably be considered a frontrunner to earn the Vikings defensive coordinator job if he is not chosen as the Indianapolis Colts head coach, a job he’s vied for since mid-January.

The Payton + Vikings bad blood dates back 13 years, as Payton’s New Orleans Saints knocked the Vikings out of the 2009 NFC Championship, disqualifying Minnesota a shot at the Super Bowl against Peyton Manning’s Colts. And it wasn’t an ordinary loss. New Orleans used a “bounty” system to injure Vikings quarterback Brett Favre, and Payton was ultimately suspended for a year because of his role in the program.

Broncos Donate Massive
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.

Fast forward eight years, and the Vikings ixnayed Payton and the Saints from the 2017 playoffs courtesy of The Minneapolis Miracle and dealt New Orleans a home playoff loss in 2019 thanks to a Kirk Cousins and Kyle Rudolph walkoff touchdown.

This time, however, Payton likely doesn’t have any other choice if he doesn’t plan to retain Evero as Denver’s defensive coordinator. Evero has been unfastened from his Broncos contract and is “on the way” to chat with Kevin O’Connell.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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