It looked like it was a done deal back in 2005:
Sean Payton Reportedly to Become Raiders' New Coach
Al Davis has a history of not hiring high-profile coaches. Apparently, that trend will continue.
The Dallas Morning News reported on its web site Tuesday night that the Oakland Raiders will make Dallas Cowboys assistant Sean Payton their next coach.
According to the newspaper, Payton is expected to sign a four-year, $1.3 million contract. He spent much of Sunday and Monday interviewing with Davis, the Raiders' renegade owner.
Payton, 40, would become the NFL's youngest head coach. If wide receiver Jerry Rice returns to the club, he would be a year older than Payton.
The hiring also would complete a remarkable career rehabilitation for Payton, who as New York Giants offensive coordinator was stripped of his play-calling duties midway through the 2002 season.
This season, Payton was on Bill Parcells' staff with the Cowboys, overseeing the team's passing game while working with quarterbacks.
Hiring a relative unknown is nothing new for Davis. In 1998, he made Jon Gruden the youngest coach in NFL history at 34.
Gruden went 40-28 in four seasons and led the Raiders to an appearance in the AFC championship game before leaving over differences with Davis following the 2001 season.
In Oakland, Payton would replace Bill Callahan, who was fired one season after leading the Raiders to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1984.
In 2003, the Raiders went 4-12 and tied for last place in the AFC West. Callahan also drew the wrath of many of his veteran players for his unapproachable attitude.
With the Raiders, Payton would inherit one of the NFL's oldest teams and a club that is expected to have major salary cap problems. Oakland owns the second pick in April's draft.
then this happened: (note that the Raiders were going to go after Rex Ryan as an assistant under Peyton....he could have been a backup plan for Peyton if he didn't work out)
Sean Payton Will Not Be The Next Raiders' Head Coach
In a situation so bizarre it could only involve the Oakland Raiders, the agreement in principle with Sean Payton to become the franchise's next head coach has broken apart, and he will remain with the Dallas Cowboys as their assistant head coach.
ESPN.com reported Tuesday night that the two sides had struck an agreement on a four-year contract. Other published reports contended that Payton had not yet been presented the parameters of a contract.
In a Wednesday evening news conference with Bay Area reporters, Oakland owner Al Davis insisted the team had not settled on new coach to succeed the deposed Bill Callahan.
Typical of the Raiders, team officials on Tuesday were phoning Dallas-area newspapers, which also reported an agreement had been reached, in attempts to find out the sources of those stories.
But the Raiders apparently were so comfortable they had a deal, ESPN.com learned, that they began contacting assistant coaches from other teams -- including Baltimore defensive line coach Rex Ryan -- about interviewing for jobs on Payton's staff. And Dallas offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon, who also interviewed with Davis, acknowledged Tuesday night that Payton had won the job.
A source close to Payton told ESPN.com Wednesday night that it "probably isn't prudent to discuss (the situation) right now, because it is in such flux. ... But the bottom line was that there were things in the contract that Sean couldn't live with."
From interviews with several people involved in negotiations, it appears Payton backed away from the deal. Why? Several reasons:
Differences over issues of control, including staffing and personnel.
Reluctance to uproot his family for the second time in a year.
The feeling that it was neither the right time -- nor the Raiders the right team -- for Payton to begin his NFL head coaching career.
The skills of persuasion possessed by Dallas owner Jerry Jones and coach Bill Parcells.
It is believed both Jones and Parcells spoke at length with Payton on Wednesday about the positives and negatives of the Raiders job. Unlike defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who received a considerable salary increase when he rejected an offer to become head coach at the University of Nebraska two weeks ago, Payton did not have his current contract with the Cowboys upgraded.
The Raiders job would have capped a remarkable career turnaround for Payton. Less than two years ago, the then-offensive coordinator for the New York Giants was stripped of his play-calling duties by coach Jim Fassel.
Davis fired Callahan earlier this month after two seasons and a 17-18 record. The Raiders played in last season's Super Bowl, but Callahan came under fire this year from many veteran players who wanted him removed. Indeed, Callahan was, after a 4-12 season. He was hired last week as the new head coach at the University of Nebraska.
League sources emphasized Tuesday evening that Payton, who this season was the assistant head coach to Parcells, had yet to sign a contract and that there still were issues to be resolved. "Remember who [Payton] is dealing with here," said a league source, referring to Davis.
That cautionary note proved prophetic.
Payton, 40, would have become the NFL's youngest head coach. The seven-year league veteran is about four months younger than Bucs coach Jon Gruden (Callahan's predecessor in Oakland) and about eight months younger than Jacksonville's Jack Del Rio.
Payton is believed to be the only candidate among those known to have interviewed with Davis who was called back a second time to meet with him. Payton met much of the day Monday, and also part of Tuesday, with Davis and Oakland officials.
Beyond Payton, Davis also interviewed Kansas City offensive coordinator Al Saunders by phone; met in person with Dennis Green, who recently was named coach of the Arizona Cardinals; interviewed Carthon; and interviewed Greg Knapp, then the 49ers offensive coordinator. Knapp subsequently was named the new offensive coordinator in Atlanta.