Report: Broncos ‘appear to be the front-runner’ to trade for Sean Payton

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Well isn’t that interesting. The Washington Post’s Mark Maske reports that former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is out in front for the Denver Broncos vacancy, though the team hasn’t met yet with all nine candidates scheduled to interview for their vacancy, and Payton’s formal in-person interview won’t happen until next Tuesday.

Maske adds that Payton left his introductory conversation with a favorable impression of new Broncos owner Greg Penner, and that he’s a fan of Russell Wilson. The embattled franchise quarterback toiled through the worst season of his career in 2022, but Payton recently (and very casually) dropped his point-by-point plan for coaching Wilson back up, so that challenge is clearly on his mind.

Denver already invested a lot of assets in acquiring Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks last offseason, but they have enough draft capital to make a move for Payton. They wouldn’t have advanced far enough to schedule an interview with him with the Saints weren’t confident the Broncos could pay what they’re seeking in trading him. It shouldn’t shock anyone that they’re a serious contender in his sweepstakes.

What is surprising is how eager Payton appears to be for entering one of the NFL’s most competitive divisions. If he takes over the Broncos gig, he would be facing off against a pair of highly talented young quarterbacks twice a year for the next decade — Patrick Mahomes is rapidly building his Hall of Fame resume with the Kansas City Chiefs, while Justin Herbert seems to make a new and exciting throw thought to be impossible each week with the Los Angeles Chargers. But, hey: Payton is known for enjoying a challenge.

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Which draft picks can each of the Sean Payton suitors trade to the Saints?

Story originally appeared on Saints Wire