Sources: Saints, Broncos agree to trade to make Sean Payton Denver's head coach
The Broncos and New Orleans Saints have agreed to a deal to make Sean Payton Denver's next head coach, Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson confirmed.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported on Tuesday that the teams had agreed to a deal.
Sources told Robinson that the Broncos will send the Saints a first-round draft pick in 2023 and a second-round selection in 2024 for the rights to hire Payton, who remained under contract in New Orleans. The Broncos will also receive a 2024 third-round pick in return.
Shortly after the news broke, Payton told Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune that he's excited about taking over in Denver.
"Great fanbase. Great tradition," Payton said. "The ownership group is fantastic, and I love the way they competed last year. It's a great football city like we had in New Orleans."
Terms of a deal between Payton and the Broncos weren't initially clear.
A year ago, Payton stepped down as coach of the Saints. Everyone knew he wouldn't be out of coaching very long.
“Retirement, I don’t think is the right word today,” Payton said when he stepped down, according to WWL in New Orleans. “I don’t know what’s next and it kind of feels good.”
In this coaching cycle, Payton and Jim Harbaugh were the biggest names talking to teams. In regards to Payton, it's rare that a coach with his credentials is available.
Sean Payton had a great run as Saints coach
Payton was the Saints' coach from 2006-21. Before Payton came to New Orleans, the Saints had just one playoff win in franchise history. Payton won nine playoff games in New Orleans, including a Super Bowl.
A couple months after Payton joined the Saints, the team landed quarterback Drew Brees in free agency. It's tough to separate the two and there's always the question of which one was more responsible for the Saints' success in that era, but Payton's record is pretty strong.
Payton was 152-89 with the Saints. The team never finished worse than 7-9 with him and had nine seasons with double-digit wins. New Orleans never had anything close to that level of success before Payton. The Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV at the end of the 2009 season for their first and only championship in franchise history.
When teams hire a new coach, it's rare to find a candidate that is more than 60 games over .500 and has a Super Bowl ring. Payton spent just one season out of football, working with Fox Sports, so it's not like he was out of the game a long time and it passed him by. Payton reportedly had been working on building his next staff of assistants. Once the offseason started, he had multiple teams interested in bringing him out of his short hiatus from coaching, with the Saints holding his rights and able to get trade compensation if he was hired by another team.
Payton, who is 59 years old, wasn't ready to leave the sidelines for good.