The Denver Broncos remain the only team with a head coaching vacancy that has yet to start scheduling second interviews with candidates. The question, at this point, is a fair one — what are they waiting for, exactly?
Perhaps the Denver Broncos ownership group is waiting to see what candidates other teams land on. Perhaps other teams know the finalists the Broncos have, and they are making alternative arrangements accordingly. One way or another, you can tell — definitively so — that the Broncos are not acting out of desperation.
In the past, I suppose that hasn’t been the case.
In last year’s coaching search, the Broncos caught wind of Nathaniel Hackett scheduling a second meeting with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they worked to get a deal done with him swiftly.
In 2019, the Broncos simply limited their head coaching search to very few candidates, and although they let Vic Fangio impress them in an interview and change their minds on the front-runner at the time (Mike Munchak), they also made an impulsive hire there.
In 2017, the team went into the process basically knowing they were going to replace Gary Kubiak with Vance Joseph, and it cost them Kyle Shanahan.
Not having a true favorite going into the process in 2023 and a true commitment to the process, in general, could end up paying dividends for the Broncos. Or, it could end up costing them some of their top targets. Are they not moving fast enough on Sean Payton? We already saw Jim Harbaugh drop out of the race after things seemingly didn’t move at his desired pace.
Now, it seems like a lot of signs are pointing back to Sean Payton returning to TV for another year and passing up on this year’s head coaching opportunities.
It’s not just the Broncos that don’t currently have a second interview lined up with Sean Payton — it’s everyone. Why is that? It was reported on Monday morning that there was a second interview happening with Payton, and that he was supposed to fly to Denver today (Wednesday). There have been reports out there from the likes of Colin Cowherd that the Broncos’ job is Payton’s if he wants it, but the team has really given no indication of that being the case.
If the Broncos viewed Payton as their top target, why are we now five days removed from their final first-round interview and we still don’t have any update on which candidates are truly finalists? Or who is coming in for a second interview?
At this point, we almost know less than when we went into this whole process.
It would make sense that someone like Payton is at the top of Greg Penner’s list, especially after Jim Harbaugh seemingly removed his name from consideration. Payton has a ton of experience and probably the most impressive history as an NFL head coach. And the Broncos were said to be prioritizing experience going into this whole thing.
According to Ian Rapoport, it sounds like Payton could be trending toward not coaching in 2023, but the Broncos do remain an option and possibility.
"“You have the Denver Broncos, who seem to be focusing their attention elsewhere. Not saying he’s out, but they do seem to be focusing elsewhere……As of right now, it does not seem like there is a place for Sean Payton. We’ll see, but it does not seem like there is a place in the coaching world right now.”Ian Rapoport, NFL Network"
I mean, how fascinating is all of this? It’s torturous but fascinating. Over the last week-and-a-half or so, there have been rumors and reports tugging us in every direction. Sean Payton is the favorite to land the Broncos job, Sean Payton is open to working with Russell Wilson, Russell Wilson wants Sean Payton to help ‘fix’ him, Sean Payton is flying to Denver for a second interview, Sean Payton isn’t flying to Denver for a second interview, the second interview between Payton and the Broncos has been delayed, it never existed in the first place…
What is anyone actually supposed to think at this point?
Well, one thing is clear — the Broncos are not giving the impression that they are desperate, in any way, for Sean Payton. They are seemingly not desperate for anyone. Is that going to result in Payton going back to TV for another year? Maybe coaching against the Broncos as soon as 2024?
If DeMeco Ryans were to become the next head coach of the Denver Broncos, the dream coaching staff could look like this in the Mile High.
Time will tell. There’s no reason to close the door on Payton just yet. These media reports could all be for leverage and posturing, or maybe they’re telling us more of the story than we think.