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As the Broncos continue their search for a new head coach, Sean Payton is officially in the mix. Where it was speculation before, that is no longer the case.
According to Adam Schefter, New Orleans has granted Denver permission to interview Payton for its opening. The 59-year-old, who announced his decision to step down as head coach of the Saints in January, was still under contract with the team at the time.
That means that other teams cannot interview Payton without his former team’s permission. It was granted to the Broncos, though any in-person interviews cannot be conducted until January 17.
In addition, because New Orleans still holds his contractural rights, any team wanting to hire Payton would have to work out compensation. Denver being granted permission means that the two sides have likely come to a general agreement on what that compensatory package would look like.
Payton is currently serving as an analyst for Fox NFL Sunday. However, it was always assumed that he would return to coaching within a year or two.
Multiple teams are expected to have interest in Sean Payton.
Payton won a Super Bowl with the Saints in 2009 and went 152-89 in his 14 years with the team.
Meanwhile, the Broncos have not won more than nine games since 2015. Gary Kubiak, Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio and Nathaniel Hackett did not work out and they are in desperate need of a successful hire.
The hope, clearly, is that Payton could be that guy— no matter what it may cost.
Although nothing is official, the general consensus is that New Orleans will release Payton’s contract rights for no less than a first round pick. Denver may lack in that area after the Russell Wilson trade, but getting a proven winner at head coach is worth it.