Report: Panthers join Payton chase after Saints sign off on interview
Payton is this hiring cycle's most sought-after candidate. The Arizona Cardinals, Denver Broncos, and Houston Texans have reportedly also been given the green light to speak with the 59-year-old.
The Saints, who retain Payton's rights following his retirement last offseason, are apparently expected to want at least a first-round pick for their former head coach.
In-division coaching trades are rare in the NFL. Bill Belichick's move from the New York Jets to the New England Patriots in 2000 is the most notable such deal.
The Panthers are looking for a new head coach after firing Matt Rhule on Oct 10. Interim head coach Steve Wilks, Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, and 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans are reportedly among Carolina's other candidates.
Payton boasts one of the most impressive resumes in the NFL. He has won one Super Bowl and produced a 152-89 regular-season record in 15 seasons in New Orleans. The Saints also finished with a top-five scoring offense in 10 of his campaigns in charge.
The Panthers also interviewed former Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio for their defensive coordinator job, sources told The Athletic's Joe Person. It was previously reported that Fangio could be a potential target for a DC position on Payton's next NFL staff.