The Denver Broncos shook up the NFL on Tuesday, trading with the New Orleans Saints for head coach Sean Payton. They had previously attempted to lure Payton from New Orleans, but reports were that he was not thrilled with the Broncos cap space.
Denver then reportedly went after 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Ryans made it clear he was not interested and on Tuesday also made news, signing with the Houston Texans as their new head coach.
The Broncos move did not come cheap. They sent their 2023 first-round draft pick (#30 from Miami via San Francisco via the Bradley Chubb trade) and their 2024 second-round pick in exchange for Payton and the Saints’ third round pick in 2024. The Broncos traded two first-round and two second-round picks for QB Russell Wilson last season.
So, in effect, they have mortgaged a significant amount of draft capital on Wilson and now finding out whether or not the $296 million they owe him is dead money. So, let’s get into exactly why this was a wise move for the Broncos to trade for Sean Payton.
Sean Payton is the perfect fit for the Broncos
Considering how atrocious the offense looked under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, along with Wilson’s struggles, Denver felt they needed to find out right now whether Russ is done or not. Wilson had the worst year of his career and the Broncos averaged 17 points per game, worst in the league. They were considered the biggest disappointment in the NFL this season.
Payton has a track record that leads me to believe he is fully capable of turning this ship around.
When you think of the Saints, you probably think of a well run organization. But do you remember what they were before Payton got there? Does ‘The Aint’s’ sound familiar. Remember all those Saints fans with paper bags on their heads in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. New Orleans didn’t even win their first playoff game as a franchise until the year 2000. That organization was a disaster until Payton got there.
Now I am not crazy enough to say that Drew Brees doesn’t also deserve a ton of credit for the team’s success. But I watched over many years Payton transform the Saints offense numerous times. During the early years in New Orleans with guys like Marques Colston, Joe Horn and Devery Henderson, the Saints were a downfield aerial attack offense.
He helped tight ends like Jeremy Shockey and Jimmy Graham elite players at their position. As Brees got older and his arm strength wasn’t there, they pivoted and became a run-first offense. Whether it was Mark Ingram and Latavious Murray, or then Alvin Kamara, Payton also kept defenses on their toes.
Broncos personnel loaded with talent
I don’t believe we have ever seen a 9-time Pro Bowl QB just suddenly become irrelevant. It’s hard for me to believe that Wilson, at 34 years old, is just done. Hackett was thought to be an offensive genius. As it turned out, he was just Aaron Rodgers’ drinking buddy.
Meanwhile, the talent level in Denver is incredibly high.
Everyone already knows that the Broncos have one of the better defensive units in the NFL. Let’s not forget, their young stud running back Javonte Williams missed practically the entire season last year due to injury. He is expected to be back and healthy.
Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and KJ Hamler make up one of the better trios at wide receiver in the league. The offensive line ranks as one of the better lines. All of the pieces will be there for success. They just need a coach capable of putting the pieces in the right places to make it all work.
That’s exactly what Payton can, and will do, in Denver.