Here’s an interesting take from a former New Orleans Saints player. Emmanuel Sanders retired from the NFL to take a turn to the media last year, but he remains committed to his hometown Denver Broncos team — the squad he won a Super Bowl ring with, in the city where he and his family live. So Sanders is paying rapt attention to the ongoing Sean Payton sweepstakes, in which his Broncos have been big players.
But he isn’t so sure Denver needs Sean Payton to fix their problems. At least, he sees a path forward that doesn’t require the kind of sacrifices it would take to bring Payton to town.
“Sean Payton is just a coach,” Sanders wrote from his official Twitter account on Saturday while chatting with Broncos fans. He continued, “Meaning when he gets too far on the field someone makes him move back. He can’t play the game. He can’t win the line of scrimmage. Coach is important but I think improving (offensive and defensive line) depth is just as important.”
Sanders conceded that paying Payton’s high salary demands shouldn’t be an issue for the new ownership group in Denver, specifying that his concern lies in the draft picks needed to acquire Payton in a trade with the Saints. After trading so many assets for Russell Wilson last year, in his view, the Broncos should use their remaining draft picks in 2023 to bolster the offensive line and give Wilson a fighting chance against the opposing pass rush.
He had another point that hasn’t been discussed often enough, too: that the Broncos trading the few picks they have left might dissuade Payton from taking the job in the first place, because it would mean he couldn’t draft his own players this year. Payton valued his personnel control and ability to shape the roster greatly in New Orleans. If his ability to do that is limited in Denver, there might be other opportunities with greater appeal to him.
It’s something to think about. Sanders is intimately familiar with what the Broncos need to get back to playing competitive football in 2023, as well as what Payton offers as a coach. He’s experienced both situations firsthand. If nothing else, it’s really interesting to get this insight from someone with his background here. We should find out soon how close he got to reaching the mark.