Sean Payton
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have been eliminated from playoff contention.

After starting off 7-4, the Jets did what the Jets do best: they tanked. New York lost five straight, is now 7-9, and officially missed out on the postseason with Sunday’s defeat in Seattle.

All was well in Florham Park just six weeks ago, but it was all for naught. And with this slump and resulting playoff elimination, WFAN Sports Radio host Joe Benigno is reintroducing his Sean Payton-to-the-Jets fantasy.

“This, to me, is on the head coach [Robert Saleh]. This team doesn’t show up two weeks in a row. This team has lost five straight games, they’re on their way to a six-game complete collapse. This is all about [Saleh],” Benigno said.

“I hear [co-owner] Woody Johnson is very ticked off. That’s what I’m hearing. So if I’m Woody Johnson, you know what I do? And I hate the fact that it’s the revolving door of coaches — every two years, every four years we got a new coach. I’d be on the phone right now with Sean Payton and say “Sean: what would it take for you to come here and rescue my franchise? How much money? What would it freaking take?””

Benigno expressed a desire for the Jets to bring in Payton after the team suffered a season-opening loss to Baltimore in September. And while Saleh likely grew on the radio legend when the Jets were winning games, these five straight losses and absolute implosion have forced the overall perception to change.

What would it take? It’s clear Payton is eyeing a return to coaching after stepping down as the Saints’ head coach in early 2022. He’s even targeting former Broncos head coach Vic Fangio as his defensive coordinator, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

But the Jets would need to trade for Payton given he’s still under contract with the Saints. Schefter additionally suggests Payton could render a first-round pick, amongst other assets, in a trade.

Right now, the Jets’ first-round pick is set to be No. 13 overall, per Tankathon. So you’d have to imagine the Jets would need to send New Orleans that selection on top of other early- and/or mid-round picks.

It would also be, as Benigno brought up, the third coaching change since 2019. So the franchise would once again need to go through a rebuilding period with a new staff.

Would the Jets make the move? I think Saleh’s job is safe. Although the team collapsed, much of the blame is on the quarterback position. Zach Wilson struggled immensely and could be on his way out of Florham Park while Mike White couldn’t stay healthy.

Also, it’s one thing firing Saleh and replacing him with Payton. It’s another thing to give up a first-round pick and other draft capital in the process. Especially when there are question marks at both quarterback and left tackle.

With a relatively strong roster and future outside those two positions, Saleh could certainly still bring this franchise to new heights. He only has one more chance though. If he misses the postseason next year or even gets off to an awful start, expect Woody Johnson to pull the plug.

Follow ESNY on Twitter @elitesportsny

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.