The prize of the NFL coaching carousel appears to be former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
While no NFL team has yet conducted an interview with Payton — that process will kick off on Tuesday, when he interviews with the Denver Broncos — one NFL reporter believes a favorite has already emerged to land him.
Mark Maske, who covers the NFL for the Washington Post, tweeted Thursday that he believes the Broncos are the “front-runner” to hire Payton. Payton retired after the 2021 season but has since made it clear that he would be interested in returning to the sidelines.
“The Broncos appear to be the front-runner for Sean Payton, at least in the early stages of the process,” Maske tweeted. “Payton likes the franchise’s stable ownership and would be happy to work with Russell Wilson, source says.”
If Maske’s source is correct that Payton would be willing to coach Russell Wilson, that could be big news for Broncos fans.
Wilson, whom the team acquired in a trade from the Seattle Seahawks last offseason and then signed to a five-year contract extension, struggled mightily in his first year with the Broncos. Several around the league have speculated that the fact that Wilson is under contract through 2028 dampens the appeal of the Broncos’ job for head coaching candidates.
The Broncos fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett last month after just 15 games.
Maske notes that one variable could impact the Broncos’ chances of hiring Payton. If the Dallas Cowboys lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday and decide to fire head coach Mike McCarthy, he believes Payton could be interested in the job.
Even if that occurs, though, Maske believes Payton “could still opt for the Broncos job.”
Payton coached the New Orleans Saints for 15 seasons, leading the franchise to the playoffs nine times and winning Super Bowl XLIV. The other teams that have requested and received permission to interview him are the Arizona Cardinals and the Houston Texans.
There has been quite a bit of buzz about Payton in Arizona, as the team already appears to have a franchise quarterback in place in Kyler Murray and will have a top-five pick in this spring’s NFL Draft.
All eyes will be on Payton next week to see where, or whether, he makes his return to the NFL.
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Publish Date:2023-01-14 00:30:59