Sean Payton

Latest On Broncos’ Deadline Plans; Interest In Jerry Jeudy Cooling?

The Broncos snapped their skid of home losses, holding off the Packers in Week 7. But thanks to the team’s blown leads against the Raiders, Commanders and Jets, it is 2-5 heading into its Chiefs rematch. Already moving on from Frank Clark and Randy Gregory, the Broncos will have more decisions to make soon.

Although Sean Payton‘s team is believed to be open for business, some pushback has come with regards to how far it will go to stockpile draft capital at the midseason point. The Broncos are prepared to listen on anyone — with the possible exception of Patrick Surtain, who is not believed to be available — but are not planning a sell-off, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini notes. Barring big offers,’s Ian Rapoport confirms the team is not on track to be an aggressive seller.

[RELATED: Assessing Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton’s Trade Candidacies]

No team has parted with a higher-profile batch of talent in-season over the past five years than the Broncos, who have moved Demaryius Thomas (2018), Emmanuel Sanders (2019), Von Miller (2021) and Bradley Chubb (2022). And Payton will surely want to recoup some draft capital, especially considering what the franchise needed to give up for him and Russell Wilson. Despite George Paton‘s GM title, Russini confirms Payton will be closely involved in any trade. Considering what the Broncos gave up in terms of compensation and draft capital to land Payton, it has been widely assumed Paton has drifted to second in the personnel hierarchy.

Defensive pieces should be considered more likely to go, per Russini. Denver has a Pro Bowl safety, in Justin Simmons, and veteran linebacker Josey Jewell is in a contract year. None of the Broncos’ post-Gregory/Clark edge rushers are in walk years, however. Defensive tackle D.J. Jones is signed through 2024, though he was added to play in Ejiro Evero‘s defense. Simmons would stand to generate the most interest, given his status as one of the NFL’s best safeties, but Kareem Jackson‘s four-game suspension effectively takes him off the market. The 35-year-old veteran has not played particularly well this season, but his absence — coupled with Caden Sterns‘ season-ending injury in Week 1 — may prompt the Broncos to stand down on Simmons..

More buzz has surrounded Denver’s offensive talent, but the Broncos are not necessarily committed to moving Jerry Jeudy. Although the former first-round pick landed in trade rumors last October and throughout the offseason, he is unlikely to generate an offer close to the level the organization sought. Denver wanted a first-rounder for Jeudy this offseason, but his slow start probably will not lead any team to hand over such a return. Even a second-rounder will probably be difficult to come by, with Denver7’s Troy Renck noting interest has diminished in the talented but inconsistent receiver. While interest remains, Renck mentions a third-rounder as potential compensation. The Broncos drafted Jeudy 15th overall three years ago.

Jeudy’s $12.99MM fifth-year option salary is fully guaranteed; that component has been an issue for teams. Courtland Sutton has fared better this season, and the sixth-year wideout played a lead role in helping the Broncos beat the Packers on Sunday. Sutton, 28, has been viewed as less likely to be traded than Jeudy. But the Broncos still having Jeudy under contract in 2024 gives them time. Sutton is signed through 2025, and with no guarantees on the books beyond this year, flexibility exists in the four-year, $60MM contract.

The Broncos should be expected to make a seller’s trade or two, per Renck, and another loss to the Chiefs would seemingly accelerate a desire to collect a couple of assets. The Broncos also travel to Buffalo after their Week 9 bye. With Simmons, Jeudy and left tackle Garett Bolles signed through 2024, the team will need to weigh its trade chips’ potential future contributions against any offers that come in before the Oct. 31 deadline.

Regarding one of the players the Broncos already jettisoned, Clark remains a free agent. After dangling the ninth-year veteran in trades, the Broncos moved on via release. Payton said Clark grumbled about a lack of playing time, which led to the cut.

Frank was frustrated with the snaps, or lack thereof,’’ Payton said, via the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. “We brought him in hoping that we could get more from him. In fairness to Frank, I don’t think he ever felt like he was getting enough in a row to play well, and yet, some of the other younger guys were earning those spots.”

Clark, 30, did not have much of a chance to see steady snaps. The Broncos used him as a backup in Week 1, and he missed the next three games due to a groin injury sustained in practice. Clark, who has been linked to a Chiefs reunion, played just 11 defensive snaps in his return to action against the Jets. The Broncos activated Baron Browning off the reserve/PUP list Saturday and teamed him with starters Jonathon Cooper and Nik Bonitto in Week 7.

Broncos ‘Open For Business’ In Trades?

On the whole, the Broncos’ offense has submitted far more competent work compared to a perplexing 2022 season. After finishing last in scoring last season, Denver is 10th through five games. But the defense — a reliable facet for most of the franchise’s post-Peyton Manning years — has faceplanted, ranking last across the board and leading the way in a 1-4 start. Naturally, teams are monitoring the Broncos ahead of the trade deadline.

Denver has made a habit of selling at recent deadlines, unloading Demaryius Thomas (2018), Emmanuel Sanders (2019), Von Miller (2021) and Bradley Chubb (2022). They have already cut bait on Randy Gregory, dealing him to the 49ers. Reports ahead of Week 5 indicated the Broncos were not preparing to be early sellers and that offensive players were not in line to be moved, but after the team dropped another home game, it appears potential buyers believe the retooling squad will be prepared to move assets.

Teams believe Denver will be “open for business” in trades, per Dan Graziano of, who indicates the team is prepared to listen to offers. While recent reports pointed to the Broncos not being ready to unload key offensive pieces, Graziano adds the team is expected to once again listen to offers for Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton along with talent on defense. The Broncos are not interested in trading Patrick Surtain, per Graziano, as the franchise naturally views the All-Pro cornerback as a building block. But Denver supporting-casters are likely to come up frequently in rumors, especially if the team’s losing streak against the Chiefs continues Thursday night.

We’re not looking to do business with any of our players. That doesn’t prevent teams from calling at times, so we just — you pick the phone up, that’s kind of where it’s at,” Sean Payton said, via’s Jeff Legwold. “We’ve got a good handle on this current roster and our vision for the roster a year from now, that’s the part about improving and getting better.”

GM George Paton was at the controls when the team unloaded Miller (for second- and third-round Rams picks) and Chubb (for Dolphins first- and fourth-rounders, with Chase Edmonds included as salary filler). The third-year GM is almost definitely second in command to Payton this year, and with the longtime Saints coach not present when the most of the team’s trade pieces were initially acquired, it is logical to expect the Broncos to strongly consider moving talent before the Oct. 31 deadline. Players are leery of a potential teardown,’s James Palmer notes.

Confirming a weekend report that Frank Clark is likely available, Palmer adds players took notice at the Gregory trade. The Broncos cut an edge rusher who began the season as a starter, agreeing to pay almost all of Gregory’s salary — a tactic they used with Miller to increase trade compensation from the Rams — to convince the 49ers to acquire him. The Broncos accepted a Day 3 pick swap in 2024 for Gregory, who is tied to a five-year, $69.5MM contract. The team will undoubtedly be looking for better returns for other trade chips.

Jeudy and Sutton came up as chips early this offseason, with the Broncos wanting a first-rounder for the former and a second for the latter. The Broncos engaged in “a lot” of conversations about Jeudy and Sutton this offseason, Graziano adds, and the Ravens moved close to acquiring Sutton before their Odell Beckham Jr. signing. Based on the starters’ early-season showings, those asks seem farfetched. Jeudy has totaled 208 receiving yards in four games; Sutton is at 229 in five. Both have submitted better work, but neither has been consistent in Payton’s offense just yet.

Payton’s Saints teams relied on WR1s Marques Colston and Michael Thomas, but his first Broncos squad has spread the ball around. Second-round rookie Marvin Mims leads the team in receiving yards (246), despite being a part-time player on offense. Moving one of the regulars would open the door for Mims, though the Oklahoma-developed deep threat has a clear WR3 window as is. Nevertheless, he has only played 28% of the Broncos’ offensive snaps.

Left tackle Garett Bolles has come up loosely in rumors in the past, including over the weekend, and the Broncos do have swingman Cameron Fleming as insurance. Though, the team experienced rampant O-line health issues last season. Bolles has recovered from the broken leg that ended his 2022 campaign, starting all five games this year. Bolles, 31, is a seventh-year starter who is signed through 2024. Eighth-year safety Justin Simmons turns 30 next month; his $15.25MM-per-year contract runs through 2024. The Pro Bowler is tied to a $14.4MM base salary.

Broncos Not Looking To Be Early Sellers

No team has been a more active seller than the Broncos over the past few years. Denver parted with three of its Super Bowl 50 cornerstones — Demaryius Thomas (2018), Emmanuel Sanders (2019) and Von Miller (2021) — and moved Bradley Chubb last year. The team used the Miller and Chubb picks to form the Russell WilsonSean Payton partnership.

While Wilson is early in the process of bouncing back from a wildly disappointing Broncos debut season, the team started this one 0-3. Denver’s defense, easily its most reliable unit in the years since Peyton Manning‘s retirement, has taken a massive step back. Since 2000, no defense has produced a worst EPA figure since 2000, The Athletic’s Mike Sando notes (subscription required). Even though the Broncos rallied from 21-point deficit to beat the Bears in Week 4, Vance Joseph‘s defense is under a microscope.

Despite this unexpected freefall defensively,’s Ian Rapoport notes the Broncos are not looking to build for the future just yet by becoming an early seller. The team’s status as a true seller figures to hinge on how it performs over the next few weeks. Before the Oct. 31 deadline, the Broncos face the Jets, Packers and will check off both their Chiefs matchups — the second of which, the home tilt — coming two days before the deadline.

The Broncos discussed Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton with teams this offseason, holding out for a first-round pick for Jeudy and a second-rounder for Sutton. No such offers emerged, and the homegrown draftees remain Denver’s top two wideouts. While Marvin Mims has been effective when utilized — to the point the second-rounder is the team’s leading receiver (242 yards) — he has only played 27% of the team’s offensive snaps.

Denver also rosters longtime starters in Justin Simmons and Garett Bolles; both would stand to generate interest. No trade rumors have surfaced around these cornerstones, but if the team struggles this month, players outside of Jeudy and Sutton figure to come up for a team that has shown no hesitation in selling. John Elway dealt Thomas and Sanders, but current GM George Paton was at the wheel when the Miller and Chubb trades transpired.

Wilson’s performance will naturally lead the way in determining if the Broncos want to begin collecting assets for 2024 and beyond. Through four games, the scrutinized QB sits third in the NFL in passer rating, second in touchdown passes (nine) and sixth in yards per attempt (7.7). QBR slots the 2022 trade acquisition 19th, however. While the Wilson-Payton rapport has come up many times as a topic, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini notes the duo are “flourishing” early in their relationship. Wilson has made strides in recovering from a poor fit with Nathaniel Hackett, but if the Broncos’ defense cannot get back on track, the team’s post-deadline nucleus might be worse.

One change that came on defense in Week 4 involved Randy Gregory, whom the team benched in Week 4, as Denver7’s Troy Renck observes. Through four games, Pro Football Focus ranks Gregory as a bottom-10 edge defender. Although Denver’s defense as a whole endured one of the worst showings in NFL history, as the Dolphins became the first team since 1966 to score 70 points, Gregory received some punishment in the wake of the rout. The Broncos benched Gregory despite having Baron Browning on their reserve/PUP list. The team gave Gregory a five-year, $70MM deal in 2022 but saw him miss much of last season due to a knee injury. Nik Bonitto and Jonathon Cooper served as the Broncos’ first-string edges in Chicago.

Sean Payton: Russell Wilson Still Has It

Being one of last season’s most disappointing teams, the Broncos launched another reboot by obtaining Sean Payton’s rights from the Saints. Payton, however, will be tasked with coaching Russell Wilson and working with holdover GM George Paton. But the longtime Saints coach can certainly be viewed as the centerpiece presence in Denver.

As such, Payton fired off some strong stances in an interview with USA Today’s Jarrett Bell. Among the people taken to task by the Super Bowl-winning HC: predecessor Nathaniel Hackett. This Broncos season will do plenty to determine which 2022 pillar was more at fault for the Broncos’ woes last season; Payton is placing considerably more blame on Hackett than Wilson.

Everybody’s got a little stink on their hands; it’s not just Russell. It was a (poor) offensive line. It might have been one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL. That’s how bad it was,” Payton said, via Bell.

“… I don’t know Hackett. A lot of people had dirt on their hands. It wasn’t just Russell. He didn’t just flip. He still has it. This B.S. that he hit a wall? Shoot, they couldn’t get a play in. They were 29th in the league in pre-snap penalties on both sides of the ball.”

This is not the first time Payton has said the team’s 2022 mess was not entirely on Wilson. The Broncos’ Pat ShurmurTeddy Bridgewater offensive setup finished 23rd in scoring offense; the Hackett-Wilson pairing sunk it to last. The team gave Wilson a private office and allowed his personal team facility access. While noting QB offices are not out of the ordinary, Payton reiterated he shut down Team Wilson staffers’ facility access.

Perhaps most importantly, the Broncos gave Wilson autonomy in designing the offense last year. Although injuries to the likes of Garett Bolles, Javonte Williams, Tim Patrick and others led to the quarterback’s stunning nosedive, Wilson’s effort to play more from the pocket produced prolonged periods of stagnancy as the Broncos stumbled to a 3-10 start. Paton forced Hackett to bring Jerry Rosburg out of retirement to manage games after glaring managerial snafus transpired during the Broncos’ first two contests, and the GM ended up firing the first-time HC after a blowout Christmas Day loss to the Rams. Hackett, who gave up play-calling duties midway through his short tenure, is one of just three coaches since the 1970 merger to be fired before their first season concluded.

Wilson, 34, still took the brunt of the criticism, having been traded for a picks package headlined by two first-rounders and two seconds. He finished with a career-low 16 touchdown passes, and after closing his Seahawks tenure with QBR rankings of 10th, 11th, fifth, eighth and 10th from 2017-21, the perennial Pro Bowler dropped to 27th in his first Broncos campaign.

That wasn’t his fault,” Payton said of Wilson’s facility setup. “That was the parents who allowed it. That’s not an incrimination on him, but an incrimination on the head coach, the GM, the president (Damani Leech) and everybody else who watched it all happen. Now, a quarterback having an office and a place to watch film is normal. But all those things get magnified when you’re losing. And that other stuff, I’ve never heard of it. We’re not doing that.

“It doesn’t happen often where an NFL team or organization gets embarrassed. And that happened here.”

It is certainly interesting Payton mentioned Paton, whose job security took a hit after the Hackett-Wilson pairing produced a spectacular letdown. Payton has been connected to potentially bringing in more familiar front office personnel. This could loom as an important season for the Broncos’ GM, given the events of the past year.

Wilson’s five-year, $245MM extension runs through 2028. His cap number jumps from $22MM to $35.4MM between 2023 and ’24. The Broncos can escape this contract with a $35.4MM dead-money charge in 2024 with a post-June 1 cut designation — though, that would be an extreme move, considering dead money would come in 2025 as well — should the form Wilson showed in 2022 represent a true decline rather than a coaching-induced blip.

Payton has praised offseason pickup Jarrett Stidham, who signed a two-year, $10MM deal. But the team remains committed to Wilson, who will have Williams, Patrick and Bolles back, along with big-ticket O-line pickups Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers in the mix. After eyeing a partnership with Payton in the past, Wilson has a clear bounce-back opportunity.

Broncos Eyeing Altered Role For TE Greg Dulcich

Expectations are high for the Broncos offense heading into 2023, with head coach Sean Payton now at the helm. One of the key factors in the team’s ability to rebound from a highly disappointing performance on that side of the ball last season is the way in which Payton’s scheme will alter the workload of the unit’s main contributors.

[RELATED: Reviewing Broncos’ Offseason]

One of those is tight end Greg Dulcich, who came to the Miles High City last season after a productive final two seasons at UCLA. The third-rounder flashed potential with 33 receptions for 411 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but his rookie campaign was limited to 10 games due to a nagging hamstring issue.

In 2023, Dulcich could see not only an expanded workload but also a new job description. The 23-year-old was recently named by Payton as a candidate to play the ‘joker’ role, as detailed by Troy Renck of Denver7. That moniker is one which involves heavy usage in the passing game for a position which, in Dulcich’s case, typically calls for considerable usage as a run blocker.

“The joker player for us is not a receiver,” Payton elaborated, via ESPN’s Jeff Legwold“It’s either a running back or a tight end with exceptional ball skills and then you can work matchups. We’ve had that at the running back spot, Reggie Bush was the joker, Darren Sproles and Alvin Kamara. Those were all unique players, not just in the running game, but they had passing game skill sets that allowed you to do multiple things, and I think Greg does too.”

Dulcich’s skillset is indeed built more on proficiency as a pass-catcher than strength in the run game, making him a logical candidate for the transition. Denver also has free agent signing Chris Manhertz, trade acquisition Adam Trautman and 2020 fourth-rounder Albert Okwuegbunam on the depth chart at the TE spot. That trio could be well-suited to provide the Broncos with capable play while attempting to maximize the potential Dulcich has as a Swiss Army knife type in Year 2. It will be interesting to watch how he is deployed in training camp and the preseason in advance of a campaign where the team will be under considerable scrutiny.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

After the 2022 offseason produced 10 new head coaches, this one brought a step back in terms of turnover. Five teams changed HCs, though each conducted thorough searches — four of them lasting until at least January 31.

The Colts and Cardinals hired their HCs after Super Bowl LVII, plucking the Eagles’ offensive and defensive coordinators (Shane Steichen, Jonathan Gannon). The Cardinals were hit with a tampering penalty regarding their Gannon search. Conducting their second HC search in two years, the Broncos saw multiple candidates drop out of the running. But Denver’s new ownership group convinced Sean Payton to step out of the FOX studio and back onto the sidelines after just one season away. The Panthers made this year’s first hire (Frank Reich), while the Texans — running their third HC search in three years — finalized an agreement with DeMeco Ryans minutes after the Payton news broke.

Only one of last year’s top 10 longest-tenured HCs lost his job. A turbulent Colts year led to Reich being fired barely a year after he signed an extension. During a rather eventful stretch, Jim Irsay said he reluctantly extended Reich in 2021. The Colts passed on giving interim HC Jeff Saturday the full-time position, despite Irsay previously indicating he hoped the former center would transition to that role. Reich landed on his feet, and after losing Andrew Luck to a shocking retirement just before his second Colts season, the well-regarded play-caller now has another No. 1 pick (Bryce Young) to mentor.

After considering a Rams exit, Sean McVay recommitted to the team and is overseeing a reshaped roster. Andy Reid also sidestepped retirement rumors, staying on with the Chiefs after his second Super Bowl win. This will be Reid’s 25th season as an NFL head coach.

Here is how the 32 HC jobs look for the 2023 season:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2024
  3. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  4. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010; extended through 2025
  5. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2025
  6. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2027
  7. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2023
  8. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2025
  9. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018; signed extension in February 2022
  10. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019: signed extension in July 2022
  11. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  12. Ron Rivera (Washington Commanders): January 1, 2020
  13. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  14. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020
  15. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  16. Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons): January 15, 2021
  17. Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers): January 17, 2021
  18. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021
  19. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  20. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  21. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  22. Josh McDaniels (Las Vegas Raiders): January 30, 2022
  23. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  24. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  25. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  26. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  27. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022
  28. Frank Reich (Carolina Panthers): January 26, 2023
  29. Sean Payton (Denver Broncos): January 31, 2023
  30. DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans): January 31, 2023
  31. Shane Steichen (Indianapolis Colts): February 14, 2023
  32. Jonathan Gannon (Arizona Cardinals): February 14, 2023

Broncos HC Sean Payton Insists Team Will Not Trade WRs Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton

Throughout the early offseason, rumors have run rampant concerning two of the Broncos’ most promising assets. Denver fielded calls before last year’s trade deadline from several teams seeking to acquire wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. Despite the existing interest, new head coach Sean Payton assured the media today that they have no intentions of dealing Jeudy or Sutton.

Trade interest in the two young wideouts began last season as needy teams were looking to add some weapons for a playoff run. Although it became clear that the Broncos weren’t shopping the two players two weeks ago, teams have still been calling to inquire about their availability.

At the annual league meetings, Payton chose to address the situation quite plainly. “I see and read like everyone else does,” Payton told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. “Then occasionally, when someone really crowds the plate, I throw a fastball right at their chin, and they back up, and they’re like, ‘Alright.’ And so I haven’t thrown any fastballs lately, but we’re not trading those two players.”

For those confused by Payton’s baseball analogy, the new Denver head coach is saying that if anyone was pushing too hard for Jeudy or Sutton, he would make sure they received the message of their unavailability. Apparently, that hasn’t been necessary, so far.

“When people call and the phone rings like it does this time of year, [general manager] George Paton‘s job is to pick it up and say, ‘Hey. Tell you what, we’re not,'” Payton continued. “And so, we’ve received calls, you bet. Those are two good football players. But we’re in the business of gathering talent right now. Why do people call? Because they know we’re void of draft picks and that we might, because there was some discussions a year ago, I think, regarding Courtland. But we like the current group we’re working with.”

So, it looks like Denver will be moving forward with those top-two weapons for quarterback Russell Wilson. Under new leadership and with the return of a strong third option in Tim Patrick, the Broncos’ offense is hoping to look different than they did in 2022 with a similar roster. Payton intends to keep Sutton and Jeudy around.

Matt Patricia Still In Play For Broncos; Sean Payton Discusses Vic Fangio Pursuit

The NFL’s coordinator carousel is slowing down, after nearly two months of spinning. The ride left Matt Patricia without a position, with the Patriots hiring Bill O’Brien after using the longtime defensive staffer in the strange role of de facto offensive coordinator.

Another Patricia path closed when the Broncos hired Vance Joseph as defensive coordinator, bringing back the veteran coach four years after firing him as head coach. Patricia, however, is still in play to work under Joseph. Sean Payton confirmed Tuesday he plans to meet with Patricia about a staff position.

He and I are gonna talk this week, and I wouldn’t rule that out, though. If that were to possibly come to fruition, it would be for a few things,” Payton said, via the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers. “I’d certainly want to talk to Vance and our defensive coaches, but I know Matt well enough to know how smart he is and what he can contribute.”

Patricia, who also joined Rex Ryan and Sean Desai as candidates for the Broncos’ DC gig, has spent the past two-plus seasons back with the Patriots. Bill Belichick rehired him, following a rough go of it as Lions HC, and installed his longtime lieutenant at different positions. Patricia spent time in an executive role upon coming back to New England and was given significant responsibilities on offense last season, working as Belichick’s top assistant on that side of the ball. That unorthodox plan did not work out, and O’Brien’s arrival left Patricia in limbo. His Pats contract expired. Patricia’s Lions contract expiring also may have played a role in the veteran looking for a role outside of New England.

Payton and Patricia have not worked together; the latter spent 14 years with the Pats — six as DC — before landing the Lions’ top job. The Broncos are keeping two holdovers on defense — DBs coach Christian Parker and D-line coach Marcus Dixon — and have already added Greg Manusky and Michael Wilhoite to head up their inside and outside linebackers, respectively. Patricia, 48, would make sense as a senior defensive assistant, but Joseph will have to sign off on one of his competitors for the DC job joining the staff.

Although Payton made the rare move to bring a fired HC back to the same team that ousted him, he confirmed he wanted Joseph’s Broncos HC successor — Vic Fangio — to come back. Payton and Fangio were linked to joining forces back in December, but the latter received a host of opportunities and ended up signing a three-year deal with the Dolphins. Fangio is set to be the league’s highest-paid DC.

Do I think he would have been a great asset for us? Yes. We were planning, in this year/wave, if the right scenario came up we’d work together,” Payton said. “I think [the Denver fit] was just a little unique because it wasn’t too long ago he was here, but certainly I tried, talked to him, tried to twist his arm. I’m excited for his opportunity in Miami.”

Payton’s Patricia and Fangio comments made for an interesting morning for Joseph, who agreed to rejoin a team that sacked him four years ago. The initial report of Fangio agreeing to terms with the Dolphins surfaced Jan. 29; the Broncos hired Payton on Jan. 31. While Fangio’s Dolphins agreement did not become finalized for a stretch, it can be assumed Payton still attempted to pursue him for the Denver job. This all occurred before Joseph entered the picture. The Broncos’ Joseph interview request did not come out until Feb. 16. Payton confirmed Joseph’s time as Arizona’s defensive coordinator — a post the recent Cardinals HC candidate called “a tough job for a number of years” — did well to vault him past Denver’s other DC candidates.

Fangio, 64, coached the Broncos from 2019-21. Unlike Joseph, who was not with the team during GM George Paton‘s tenure, Fangio lost his job at the conclusion of Paton’s first season with the team. The Scranton, Pa., native worked with the Eagles as a consultant last season but planned on making a full-fledged DC return in 2023. The Dolphins paid him handsomely to do so.

Trade Cost Dissuaded Cardinals From Pursuing Sean Payton

Sean Payton was the top candidate on the head coaching market this year, and he drew considerable interest around the league while still being under contract with the Saints. The Cardinals interviewed him during their search, but he ultimately wound up in Denver.

Part of the reason for that was the trade compensation New Orleans was seeking for a hire to become possible. When speaking publicly on the topic, Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill revealed that trade talks quickly left Arizona out of the running to acquire Payton, in light of their rebuilding effort.

“We spent a lot of time,” with Payton, Bidwill said, via Pro Football Talk’s Josh Alper“The issues around coach Payton had nothing to do with the money, the compensation we would be paying him. It was all the compensation, the draft compensation to the Saints. We just weren’t willing to go with what the Saints wanted us to give up. It would have been too costly to the team for us to rebuild that roster. It was really a series of tradeoffs. I still felt like we got great coaches out there that can get this team turned around. I think we were right when you look at [Jonathan Gannon].

Denver sent New Orleans 2023 first- and 2024 second-round picks in exchange for Payton and a third-rounder in 2024. That came as little surprise, given reports early in the interviewing process that the two teams had the framework of an agreement in place. The Broncos’ willingness to part with a Day 1 selection is especially noteworthy considering the package they sent Seattle for Russell Wilson last offseason, and is obviously greater than what Bidwill deemed an appropriate price within his team’s circumstances.

The Cardinals turned their attention away from Payton towards a shortlist of finalists which included Gannon. The now-former Eagles defensive coordinator took the Arizona job not long after the Super Bowl, and has a pair of new coordinators on his staff to lead the franchise in a different direction after the Kliff Kingsbury and Steve Keim era came to an end after the regular season. The reputation the team took on during that span was one of the key reasons Payton ultimately headed to Denver.

“I think [Cardinals QB Kyler Murray] is extremely talented, and I think they have the same challenges there that we have in Denver,” Payton said after his Broncos hire became official. “They are very similar challenges. Culture in the building has to be better. It just does.”

Having passed on a Payton deal, the Cardinals now approach the new league year with roughly $14MM in cap space and four of the first 97 picks in the upcoming draft. How they use that capital in the coming months will go a long way in determining their success, and, to an extent, whether or not balking at the Saints’ trade demands was the right call.

Russell Wilson Wanted Sean Payton To Replace Pete Carroll With Seahawks?

More information emerged regarding Russell Wilson‘s odd 2022 Friday morning. A report from Kalyn Kahler, Mike Sando and Jayson Jenks of The Athletic indicates the veteran quarterback made a request that Seahawks ownership fire both Pete Carroll and John Schneider, citing the duo had inhibited his pursuit of Super Bowls and awards.

This alleged request came weeks before the Seahawks decided to trade Wilson to the Broncos. Wilson denied (via Twitter) he asked for the Seattle HC and GM’s firings, and a lawyer for the QB described that assertion as “entirely fabricated.”

Wilson-Carroll disagreements about the direction of the Seahawks took place ahead of the QB’s 2021 trade destination list surfacing, and after the 2022 trade, reports indicating the NFC West team viewed its former franchise passer as declining came out. A shockingly mediocre Wilson season commenced in Denver. His partnership with Nathaniel Hackett proved a poor fit, and Hackett became the third first-year HC since the 1970 merger to be fired before season’s end.

The Broncos have since traded for Sean Payton, nearly two years after Wilson’s trade list included the Saints. Wilson wanted the Seahawks to trade for Payton’s rights after his Saints exit last year, according to The Athletic. Payton announced he was leaving the Saints on Jan. 25, 2022; Schneider and Broncos GM George Paton began discussing a trade ahead of the Feb. 5 Senior Bowl. The trade took place March 8.

The previously referenced Latavius Murray text message to his former coach occurred just before the Broncos’ Christmas blowout loss to the Rams. Payton had said Murray texted him about he and a backfield teammate wanting him in Denver, with the veteran running back confirming Wilson was the teammate. Murray sent the text Dec. 23, per The Athletic. The Broncos fired Hackett on Dec. 26, following a 51-14 loss to the Rams. No accusation is made of Wilson wanting Hackett to go, but that relationship had long trended in that direction. During the Broncos’ coaching search, Wilson reached out to Payton.

Payton soon put the kibosh on Wilson’s team having full access to Denver’s facility, but Paton allowed Wilson’s personal coach (Jake Heaps), a physical therapist and a nutritionist such privileges last year. Heaps had partial access to the Seahawks’ facility, per The Athletic, and Wilson did not have an office there. Wilson agreed to stop using the office and to keep his support staff out of the building over the season’s final two weeks.

Wilson organized weekly meetings for Denver’s offense during the players’ Tuesday off day, and The Athletic notes Heaps was part of those summits, which were aimed around preparing for the next opponent. An anonymous coach also said he did not agree with the evaluations Wilson and Heaps made on scouting reports distributed on Tuesdays. With Hackett also being accused of being too deferential to players, the potentially incongruent scouting reports would provide a partial explanation for the Broncos’ myriad offensive issues. Those came to a head during an ugly Thursday loss to the Colts in October and persisted for much of the season.

The team ended the year with three play-callers. All three (Hackett, QBs coach Klint Kubiak, OC Justin Outten) are elsewhere now. Melvin Gordon, whom the Broncos waived in November after extensive fumbling problems, said Hackett attempting to blend Wilson’s Seattle offense and Hackett’s preferred Green Bay-style blueprint was “a bit much.” The organization fired Vic Fangio in large part due to his team’s struggles offensively, but the Broncos’ Pat ShurmurTeddy Bridgewater setup ranked 23rd in scoring. The Hackett-Wilson season produced a last-place ranking, and while numerous injuries contributed to this decline, the Broncos’ QB-HC partnership generated most of the attention. Payton, who signed a five-year contract, will be tasked with cleaning up this mess.

Payton will call the Broncos’ plays next season, accepting the team’s offer after DeMeco Ryans had generated some buzz. Ryans may not have been a serious candidate. While he preferred the Texans, The Athletic describes the former 49ers DC’s Broncos interview as “awkward.”

The Seahawks have begun negotiations with Geno Smith, whose surprising season earned him Comeback Player of the Year honors. It remains to be seen if the organization will make a true long-term commitment to Wilson’s former backup, but the team that had made some draft missteps late in Wilson’s tenure will be in position to land more starters via the 2023 first- and second-round picks obtained in the Wilson swap. Carroll is signed through the 2025 season; Schneider’s latest extension runs through 2027. Both decision-makers are going into their 14th seasons in Seattle.