On January 31st, the Denver Broncos traded for Sean Payton to fill their head coaching vacancy. Denver is sending a first-round pick in 2023 and an early pick in 2024, as was reported first by Ian Rapoport with NFL Network.
Payton is now coming out of a short retirement and will try and resurrect a Broncos franchise that has sputtered in recent years. The deal has been agreed to by both parties, per Rapoport.
Broncos’ 2022 Season
Denver had a disappointing season in 2022. Expectations were high after making a massive trade for Russell Wilson. The Broncos, who seemed to be just a quarterback away from contention, appeared to be on the cusp of doing just that.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan. The Broncos started off strong at 2-1, then sputtered into a downward spiral shortly after. Disappointing performances from Wilson and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett would lead the Broncos to a 5-12 record.
The Short-Lived Nathaniel Hackett Era
The hire of Nathaniel Hackett brought excitement to Colorado’s capital, but it turned out to be short-lived. Hackett was a hot commodity last off-season after leading a successful offense in Green Bay and helping Aaron Rodgers earn back-to-back MVP awards.
Hackett had a rough performance in Week One, as poor clock management led to a loss to start the season. Nathaniel and his team weren’t able to shake those struggles as the season progressed. Hackett’s demise came the day after Christmas, after a brutal loss to the Rams left Denver at 4-11.
Then, Jerry Rosburg took over as interim head coach and was able to win one of Denver’s last two games. Unfortunately, his coaching tenure seemed to be more of a formality. On January 25th, as the search for a new head coach intensified, Rosburg was notified he won’t be a member of the staff moving forward.
With that coaching search gaining steam, a few candidates had their names thrown into the ring. Sean Payton seemed an obvious candidate early. Payton has had his name float around ever since his retirement and would have made sense with the Broncos’ timeline.
There were many other candidates as well. Dan Quinn and Jim Harbaugh both have résumés that overflow with experience, and both would have made sense for the team as well.
DeMeco Ryans, the 49ers’ defensive coordinator, was a strong candidate as well but has recently agreed to terms with the Houston Texans per Ian Rapoport. It did not come without a fight however, as the Broncos reportedly spent this morning trying to hire Ryans, once again.
In the end, the Broncos chose Sean Payton. With a very talented roster, the right coach just might be all they need to contend. For now, that opportunity belongs to Payton.