Sean Payton is back in the NFL.
Payton, who led the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl 44 win in the 2009 season, has reached an agreement to become the head coach of the Denver Broncos, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports’ Jarrett Bell. The person requested anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about the deal.
Because Payton was under contract with the Saints through the 2024 season, a trade package had to be agreed upon with both teams.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Denver will send a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick to New Orleans for Payton and a 2024 third-rounder.
Payton was the most coveted coach during this coaching cycle. He spent the last season as an analyst with Fox after stepping away following 15 seasons with the Saints (2006-21).
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Payton has a 152-89 (.631) regular-season record, including seven NFC South championships, three NFC championship appearances and a Super Bowl win.
Now, Payton will take over a Broncos franchise looking to regain its Super Bowl-winning ways under new ownership, the Walton-Penner Group, which owns Walmart.
Payton will be tasked with reviving the career of quarterback Russell Wilson, who signed a five-year, $245 million contract, with $165 million guaranteed, per overthecap.com, during the 2022 offseason after 10 years with the Seattle Seahawks.
The Broncos were 5-12 in 2022, with first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett fired Dec. 26 with two games remaining during the season.
Wilson missed two games with injuries, delivering an 84.4 passer rating and 16 touchdowns — both figures the lowest of his career. He was 4-11.
The Broncos started 2-1 and went 1-5 in the AFC West. Payton’s challenge will be to get Denver competitive inside the division, where the Chiefs have won seven consecutive division titles behind Super Bowl-winning coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Broncos also must fend off a Chargers franchise with rising quarterback Justin Herbert, and a Raiders franchise that is moving on from longtime QB Derek Carr in coach Josh McDaniel’s second season.
The Broncos have won three Super Bowls, two with John Elway and one with Peyton Manning at quarterback. Their last playoff appearance came in the 2015 season, when they won the Super Bowl.
Since Gary Kubiak stepped down after the 2016 season, the Broncos have had three coaches (Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio and Hackett) with a revolving door at quarterback.