New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is reportedly being courted, and the Saints are letting it happen.

Will he bolt? Where there's smoke, there's fire. If a rumor is circulated long enough, there's a reason.

Saints management could've put an end to this months ago when rumors began to swirl. They didn't.

Yesterday, Payton could've answered questions about his future with the Saints after the season finale win over the Falcons. He declined.

One may suggest it behooves Payton to say anything publicly, because even if he were to stay in New Orleans, he could get a raise out of it. Highly unlikely.

Payton is the highest paid coach in the NFL at $8,000,000 a year, with two years left on his deal. Coming off back-to-back losing seasons, Tom Benson isn't going to sign him to an extension with an upgrade in pay.

With a Super Bowl championship on his resume, Payton is still desired by teams around the league.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

If the Saints feel like Payton prefers to explore the open market, it means he's not fully committed to New Orleans. So why not try to get compensation for him?

How much is he worth? It's hard to say.

The most recent NFL head coach to be traded for compensation was Herm Edwards in 2006. The New York Jets received a 4th round pick from Kansas City.

Four year prior, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sent two 1st round picks, two 2nd round picks, plus $8,000,000 to the Oakland Raiders for Jon Gruden. Less than a year later, the Bucs beat the Raiders in the Super Bowl. Oakland hasn't had a winning season since losing that game.

NFL pundits differ on Payton's trade value. Jason La Canfora of CBS sports suggests a Payton trade may only fetch a mid-round pick, while Saints beat writer Mike Triplett of ESPN's NFL Nation feels a 1st round or two 2nd round picks would suffice, while Bleacher Report suggests the Saints are only seeking a 2nd round pick.

One also needs to consider sources of reports. If Payton is indeed traded, he would want as little compensation as possible given to the Saints, as it will make his next job more difficult. New Orleans wants the best possible return in a potential trade. If it's a source close to Payton, or an inside source with the Saints, they will be leaking different information to reporters. Bear in mind, it's likely not Loomis or Payton will be speaking to a reporter, only someone close to the situation. Controlling the message is in their best interest.

Since trading coaches is a rarity in the NFL, there's not much history to draw from. A market for a situation like this is speculatory.

Perhaps Payton is only testing the market, letting it be known he can be had. Then, if the right job (for example, Dallas) opens up next season, he will be on his way. Or maybe he wants the big city as some suggest. Tom Coughlin is out in New York, and Payton has a strong relationship with Giants ownership.

Many fans throw out reasons in Payton's personal life as to why he'll stay or go. He just purchased a house in New Orleans. His son is playing high school football in Dallas. His daughter just started at Pepperdine.

Ultimately, Payton will want two things in a head coaching job. Control and a solid quarterback.

He has both right now in New Orleans, but the future ownership of the Saints is in question while Benson's family feud continues and Tom gets older. Speaking of age, Drew Brees is still great, but will be 37 in less than a month. If Payton could get a job with a solid quarterback who still has a decade of great play in front of him, he'd have to consider.

The Saints salary cap situation is awful, with hoards of dead money already on the books for 2016. Fielding a contending team while Brees can still play at an elite level is more difficult as a result.

I don't know where Payton is coaching next season. At this moment, neither does he.