The chase for Sean Payton is nearing an end, as the Denver Broncos have agreed to a trade with the New Orleans Saints to acquire the Super Bowl-winning head coach. Can Payton revive Russell Wilson?
The news of a trade between the Broncos and Saints first surfaced months ago, but it quickly materialized into a finalized agreement Tuesday afternoon. Denver will reportedly send the 2023 first-round pick acquired via the Bradley Chubb trade with Miami midseason.
The pick was originally San Francisco’s, the No. 29 overall selection in this year’s draft. In addition to a first-rounder in 2023, New Orleans will also receive a second-round selection in 2024. In return, the Saints send Sean Payton and a 2024 third-rounder back to complete the deal.
The Broncos endured one of the most embarrassing campaigns this season, as the fan base regularly watched the offense spin its tires. Denver’s record would have been 10-7 if the offense scored at least 20 points each game. For comparison, Wilson never averaged less than 22 points per game in ten seasons with the Seahawks.
As for the Saints, it was a rough year on Bourbon Street too. After trading their own first-rounder in 2023 during the 2022 NFL Draft, New Orleans found itself without a day-one selection. The trade gives the team a boost in draft capital and allows them to cash in on a head coach who didn’t want to be there.
The roster is still full of talent for New Orleans, but now the team has a path to attaining a franchise quarterback via the 2023 NFL Draft or perhaps in a trade for a veteran. The front office has several more options with these extra picks either way.
The Broncos will look to Payton to fix the offensive woes. Wilson and Payton form one of the only HC-QB duos with Super Bowl rings. If anyone can fix Wilson, it is the offensive mastermind behind an offense that supported a quarterback of similar stature — Drew Brees.
Together, Brees and Payton put New Orleans on the football map. With Wilson, the Broncos hope to end a near decade-long playoff drought. Expect to see Wilson getting the ball out quicker than ever and leaning heavily on the short game.
General manager George Paton has little to work with in the way of draft assets and is not projected to have much cap space, either. Upgrading the roster could be a challenge, but Payton’s expertise and winning pedigree should help cover up some of the holes on the depth chart.
In total, the Broncos invested three first-round picks, three second-round picks, plus more for Russell Wilson and Sean Payton. Although the final details of Payton’s new contract are unknown as of this writing, the pair also will cost north of $300 million over the next five seasons. At least now, there are no excuses left for Denver.