There is little doubt that former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton eventually returns to the sidelines. There is also little doubt that the Broncos will soon be in the market for a new coach.
Not long ago, I discussed how the Broncos should target Sean Payton if the team decides to move on from Nathaniel Hackett. Though it is looking increasingly likely that Hackett will be shown the door after one year (or sooner), after further observation, Payton coming to Denver is just not likely for more than one reason.
Payton is going to be the hottest available name for any team looking for a new head coach. He won 152 games in New Orleans, the 21st most of any coach in league history, along with guiding them to a Super Bowl victory.
The move would make a lot of sense. The Broncos are offensively challenged and Payton was always lauded for his offensive mind. He made a superstar out of Drew Brees and the Broncos have a quarterback in Russell Wilson who has always drawn comparisons to Brees.
There are obvious connections between the Broncos and Payton, but here is why it won’t happen.
The Broncos are too dysfunctional
If you take a look at this interview, Payton is not exactly in a rush to get back on the sidelines. He is only going to do so for the right opportunity. In his own words, he is looking for a solid front office with ownership and the general manager being on the same page as him in terms of the future.
That could happen, but Payton is likely going to want to have a big hand in personnel decisions too.
The Broncos’ ownership team is brand new and Payton would probably like to go to a place where the front office is a little more established. In other words, Denver is not that place right now.
The compensation would be too high
What many people seem to forget when discussing Payton coming in as the new head coach of their team is the fact that he is still under contract with the Saints through the 2024 season. That means in order for him to be “free”, a team would have to wait two more full seasons after this one before approaching him.
If a team wants him before that, the Saints are going to be owed compensation. That means draft picks. So how many picks would it cost?
Thinking back to the deal that sent Jon Gruden from the Oakland Raiders to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead of the 2002 season, the Bucs gave up a massive amount to get the coach who would help them win the Super Bowl that season.
In addition to that, Tampa Bay paid the Raiders $8 million in cash.
Perhaps the Saints would not get as much back from the Broncos in terms of draft capital but believe you me, it wouldn’t be much less. Therein lies the problem. The Broncos don’t have it.
They were able to get a first-round pick back in the upcoming draft from the Bradley Chubb trade, but they still have no second-round pick this year and even if they did, do they really want to trade those picks away for the second year in a row?
There will be better openings
Taking a look around the league, there are several coaches sitting on the proverbial hot seat aside from Hackett. Payton is going to have better opportunities.
The Arizona Cardinals and perhaps even the Raiders and Bucs would both be teams to watch but also teams that are doing well this year, the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys, two teams Payton is constantly connected to, could be in pursuit as well.
All of those teams will be able to pay more than the Broncos in terms of immediate draft picks. But Payton will have his pick of the litter and the Broncos, as they are currently constructed from top to bottom, are not going to be his first choice.