Brian Flores remains in the running for the Cardinals’ head coaching position, but teams have reached out to the Steelers assistant about defensive coordinator roles. The Broncos have joined that list.
Sean Payton‘s team has requested a DC interview with Flores, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. This comes on the heels of a multi-day discussion with Ejiro Evero about staying on as Denver’s DC. While the Evero path may not be closed, the Broncos are now considering outside options as well. Evero indeed remains in the running for the position, Mike Klis of 9News tweets, but Payton is also exploring outside hires.
The Broncos and Flores have a unique past, which could complicate a hire. Flores included the team in his ongoing racial discrimination lawsuit. The former Dolphins HC included the Broncos as one of the original teams in the suit, alleging then-GM John Elway arrived for his 2019 HC interview an hour late and hungover. The Broncos called Flores’ account “blatantly false.”
Payton and George Paton are now in charge in Denver, with the latter’s role somewhat foggy given the team’s recent high-profile HC hire. Flores, who spent the 2022 season as the Steelers’ linebackers coach, has interviewed for the Falcons and Vikings’ DC positions thus far. He also met with the Saints last year about succeeding Payton, but New Orleans went with Dennis Allen.
The moving parts here certainly supply intrigue. Evero has interviewed for all five HC positions, but Broncos management wants him to remain the team’s DC. With Nathaniel Hackett hire still under contract, the Broncos blocked him from joining Flores in interviewing for the Falcons’ DC post. Ex-Payton staffer Ryan Nielsen has since filled it. Evero also joins Flores in being on Minnesota’s DC radar, but the Broncos could block that interview as well. Payton passing on Evero, of course, would open the door to that Vikings meeting going through.
Bill Belichick‘s de facto DC in 2018, Flores played a lead role in the Patriots securing their sixth Super Bowl championship. The Pats held the Rams to three points in Super Bowl LIII, becoming the second team to keep a Super Bowl opponent out of the end zone. This performance paved the way to Flores’ Miami hire. That produced two winning seasons and a rather notable 5-11 campaign — after the Dolphins gutted their roster amid a rebuild effort — that became the subject of an NFL investigation after Flores alleged Stephen Ross offered bribes for 2019 losses.
The league did not punish Ross as a result of Flores’ allegations, but it did strip the Dolphins of first- and third-round picks for attempting to replace Flores with Payton. The Payton-Tom Brady tampering scandal could conceivably loom as a factor in a Flores-Broncos partnership as well, adding another wrinkle to what would be one of the more interesting DC interviews in recent memory.