According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, Payton is heading to Fox for the 2022 NFL season, where he’ll work as a studio analyst, joining the regular Fox NFL Sunday crew on off days for Jimmy Johnson. Payton and Fox were reportedly nearing a deal in recent weeks, but now both sides appear to have reached an agreement.
After Payton made the surprising decision to resign from the New Orleans Saints earlier this year, the former head coach acknowledged he would “like to try TV” during his final press conference with the team. The interest was mutual, with Payton having multiple media suitors this offseason, led by Fox and Amazon.
Early on, there were reports Fox might target Payton to fill the void created by Troy Aikman who left the network’s lead broadcast booth for ESPN and Monday Night Football. Fox instead chose Tom Brady as their long-term replacement for Aikman and have yet to name a seat filler until the 44-year-old quarterback decides to retire from playing.
Payton might be a better fit in the studio considering many people anticipate his media foray may last only one year, with the belief that the 58-year-old will return to coaching next season. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports already reported the Carolina Panthers were already “eyeing” Payton in 2023. Although “eyeing” is a rather vague term, there will be no shortage of suitors if and when Payton decides he wants to coach again.
If Payton does return to the sideline in the next year or two, Fox will have a much easier time filling his studio role rather than having to name a new lead broadcast analyst. Then again, after seeing the $375 million Brady is reportedly getting from Fox, along with the tens of millions of dollars being handed to other NFL analysts, Payton might decide broadcasting has more upside than coaching, assuming he’s any good.