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With Harbaugh out of the running, Broncos likely to go hard after Sean Payton

The former Saints coach also said he’d be happy to work with Russell Wilson.

New Orleans Saints vs Denver Broncos

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Now that Jim Harbaugh-to-the-NFL rumors have been fully shut down and the popular coach is staying in the college ranks, the Denver Broncos ownership group is likely to turn full attention and assets toward the highly coveted Sean Payton.

The Saints have now given three teams in addition to the Broncos permission to interview their former head coach - the Cardinals, Texans and now Panthers. Payton has confirmed interviews with the Broncos, Texans and Panthers.

Broncos’ CEO Greg Penner made it clear in his season-finale presser that the search committee would swing big for a new coach, and Payton and Harbaugh became immediate targets for the billionaires who recently bought the Denver Broncos.

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis reiterated in his season-ending presser last week that Payton has two years remaining on his contract with New Orleans and thus would have to be traded.

Although the Saints need a first-round draft pick - and early speculation was that Denver did not have enough incentive for Payton since they have only a late first-round pick in the first in 2023 (but back to a full slate in 2024) - two interesting comments recently from Loomis and Payton show a little opening for Denver on that front.

Last Friday Loomis indicated he could not be specific about what compensation the Saints would seek and noted that it would be different for every team seeking to trade for Payton.

“It’s going to be different for every team because they have different (trade assets) available,” Loomis said. “They have to get our permission to have a discussion with him. And then we have to have the compensation settled before they can actually make an offer to hire him.”

While draft picks are the usual trade assets, Loomis hints that there could be other assets that are attractive for them - and that’s great for the Broncos who have money but not picks. Saints have no first-round pick in 2023 due to a trade with the Eagles in 2022. The Broncos at least have that, thanks to the Bradley Chubb trade earlier this season.

And then Colin Cowherd interviewed Payton during the weekend playoff games, and Payton distinguished between compensation for him versus compensation for the Saints.

“I think each team would be a little different. Ultimately the compensation for the Saints would be a mid or late first-round pick,” Payton said. “Each team has different ammo. It could even be a future [draft pick].”

Cowherd also spoke with Payton about how important the ownership versus the quarterback would be for taking a head coaching position.

“It would start with ownership,” Payton said, noting if the quarterback is there, the team is generally in good shape. “The teams with openings, I won’t say they are broken but there are problems. That’s why there are openings. But I think ownership is critical. It’s hard to win in this league. And it’s even harder if there are internal problems before you even play a game.”

So there is a chance that a lot of money along with a little draft capital may be all it will take to lure Payton to the Broncos and convince the Saints to let him go.

Poll

With no Harbaugh, who’s your favorite head coaching candidate?

  • 63%
    Sean Payton
    (585 votes)
  • 5%
    Ejiro Evero
    (53 votes)
  • 1%
    Raheem Morris
    (15 votes)
  • 3%
    DeMeco Ryans
    (33 votes)
  • 15%
    Dan Quinn
    (139 votes)
  • 6%
    Jim Caldwell
    (59 votes)
  • 4%
    David Shaw
    (39 votes)
923 votes total Vote Now

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