Fitzgerald: Sean Payton has the ability to change conversation of Cardinals

Jan 27, 2023, 11:34 AM | Updated: 1:01 pm

Phoenix Suns owner Larry Fitzgerald and Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins attend the NBA g...

Phoenix Suns owner Larry Fitzgerald and Arizona Cardinals receiver DeAndre Hopkins attend the NBA game at Footprint Center on October 25, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Warriors 134-105. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Cardinals’ head-coaching search appears to be in its final stages as the week wraps up.

Having interviewed seven candidates in a little over a week’s time, five are still looking for a new home after Frank Reich took the Carolina Panthers job and Dan Quinn decided to return to the Dallas Cowboys.

Cardinals great Larry Fitzgerald may have played for Reich and has been really high on Quinn, but the future Hall of Famer sees former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton as the obvious choice for Arizona’s vacancy.

“To me, it’s really a no-brainer,” Fitzgerald told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Friday. “If you really want to build the foundation for success for a very long time, Sean Payton has done that for quite awhile in New Orleans and years before then.

“He’s a franchise-changing aspect. He’s going to be expensive, you have to give compensation up to the New Orleans Saints, but if you’re trying to change the conversation, he’s a guy that has the ability to do that.”

Of the available candidates, Payton, who interviewed with the Cardinals on Thursday, represents the lone offensive-minded coach left in the bunch.

That factor in addition to what he built alongside quarterback Drew Brees in New Orleans could be too much to ignore for a Cardinals team looking to get quarterback Kyler Murray back on track.

After making just one Pro Bowl in his first five seasons as a San Diego Charger, Brees racked up 12 All-Star appearances over his 15-year career in New Orleans. During his time with the Saints, Brees led the league seven times in passing yards. He also led the NFL in passing touchdowns four times.

“Look what he did for Drew Brees when he came to New Orleans. Drew Brees turned himself into a Hall of Famer but under the tutelage of Sean Payton,” Fitzgerald said. “In terms of him drafting great talented players — not even drafting them, but developing them — you hear a lot of people talking about Sean Payton and his ability to develop talent.

“Guys that you haven’t heard of from smaller schools, being able to develop them, develop coaches. He checks a lot of boxes when you’re talking about somebody who can change the fortunes of an organization.”

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Fitzgerald: Sean Payton has the ability to change conversation of Cardinals