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Sean Payton to Broncos updates: Denver lands head coach after wild week of interviews

The Broncos and the Saints are finalizing a trade for head coach Sean Payton

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest head-coaching dominoes in the NFL appears ready to fall. According to a new report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Denver Broncos are closing in on a deal with the New Orleans Saints that would open the door for Sean Payton to become the next head coach of the Broncos.

Payton last coached during the 2021 season, then stepped away for this past year. He worked as an analyst for FOX Sports this season, but returned to the interview circuit for head coaching jobs over the past few weeks.

Given that he is still under contract with the Saints, a compensation package needed to be finalized between Denver and New Orleans. Denver will be sending its 2023 first round pick, No. 30 overall originally belonging to the 49ers, as well as next year’s second round pick in exchange for Payton and the Saints’ 2024 third rounder.

The Saints reportedly could have picked the Broncos’ 2024 first rounder instead, but decided to go with the pick this year.

The Broncos tried to hire DeMeco Ryans instead of Sean Payton, per report

The new head coaching hires for the Texans and Broncos were announced at the exact same time on Tuesday afternoon. The Texans landed 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, and the Broncos came away with Payton. Denver reportedly wanted Ryans, but he didn’t want them.

It’s been a whirlwind week for the Broncos. It sounds like Payton was their third choice:

The Broncos have denied that they tried to hire Ryans this week. Schefter backed up that report.

Perhaps the biggest task facing Payton in Denver is repairing a Broncos’ offense that struggled a season ago. Despite their huge move to acquire quarterback Russell Wilson last season — and then sign him to a five-year contract extension with $165 million guaranteed — the Broncos’ passing game sputtered this season as Denver finished with a 5-12 record, firing first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett during the season.

Wilson had one of the worst statistical seasons of his career, completing 60.5% of his passes, notching a QBR of just 37.0, and posting an Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt of 5.54. All three were career-low numbers for the veteran quarterback.

This post will be updated with additional information as necessary.