Sean Payton will take on the Denver Broncos’ Russell Wilson reclamation project after all.
The Broncos and Saints reportedly finalized terms of a trade for the temporarily retired New Orleans head coach on Tuesday.
Denver is trading its 2023 first-round pick and next year’s second-round pick for Payton and the Saints’ 2024 third rounder, per ESPN.
All that’s left is closing the financials — likely monster money — for Payton to make it official.
The Broncos’ head coaching search had appeared to be floundering given the unpalatable nature of their roster and flexibility.
Wilson, 34, had a dreadful first season in Denver after a blockbuster trade from Seattle and mega-contract extension from the Broncos.
Rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett got fired. And Wilson’s five-year, $245 million contact is so cumbersome, the Broncos can’t get out of it until 2026.
They’re stuck with him.
The Broncos even traded edge rusher Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins for assets as the season spiraled.
So now Payton, 59, the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV champion coach, steps on as the savior after working one season for the NFL on FOX.
Interestingly, Payton takes the job but not as the Broncos’ first choice, it appears.
Sources said Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was the favorite to land the Denver job until he recommitted to Dallas for a second straight year.
The NFL Network reported that the Broncos had tried again on Tuesday to hire 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, who had been an early contender in the process. But Ryans agreed to a six-year deal with the Houston Texans, so the Broncos’ new ownership pivoted and finalized Payton.
He will be charged with turning around the league’s lowest-scoring offense (16.9) and helping GM George Paton make the most out of a roster with some talent but many needs and not a ton of assets to upgrade in the short term.
Developing story, check back for details.