Report: Broncos Have Made 'a Decision' on Hiring Sean Payton

Yardbarker 9 days ago
Report: Broncos Have Made 'a Decision' on Hiring Sean Payton
USA TODAY Sports

All the momentum in the Denver Broncos' head-coaching search seems to have suddenly been arrested as Sean Payton — the most coveted candidate on the market — has put the team on the backburner amid 11th-hour interest from other suitors. 

The Arizona Cardinals are in on Payton. Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper won't be deterred. And suddenly, after conflicting reports of Payton having a second interview scheduled with the Broncos, it no longer feels like the arrow is trending in that direction for CEO Greg Penner. 

Penner might feel powerless in this situation, despite his many billions of dollars and co-owning one of the most storied franchises in NFL history, if what FOX Sports' radio host Colin Cowherd reported on Tuesday is true. During a segment on The Herd, Cowherd reported that the Broncos have already decided that Payton is their guy, and so has the $245 million quarterback in the Mile High City. 

"I have been told the Broncos have made a decision," Cowherd said. "They want Sean Payton. Russell Wilson has told the Broncos owners he wants Sean Payton." 

So, if the richest owners in the NFL have purportedly already decided on Payton, why hasn't a hire been announced? Cowherd said Denver could offer upwards of $25M/year to Payton, which would re-set the head-coaching market and make him the highest-paid of all-time. 

According to Cowherd, it sounds like Payton isn't sure about the Broncos. Specifically, Payton is seesawing on working with Wilson. 

Watch the Cowherd clip above for further context, but the cliff-notes version goes something like this: Suddenly, perhaps Wilson is washed, as an anonymous NFL executive recently told The Athletic, and that possibility, combined with having to compete with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert twice per year in the division, respectively, and an overall lack of draft capital (especially after a trade with the New Orleans Saints to acquire his rights), could have Payton dragging his feet. 

This doesn't pass the smell test, however. It was Cowherd who reported, after speaking with Payton directly, how the former Saints head coach was impressed by the Broncos' new ownership group, especially majority owner Rob Walton. It was Cowherd who, just last week, was reporting that not only is Wilson not the liability that anonymous execs say he is, but that Payton would be happy to coach the veteran quarterback. 

Now, though, Cowherd is singing a different tune. All the pros Cowherd spoke of last week relative to the Broncos' vacancy, and Payton have suddenly turned to cons

No lie, Cowherd last week espoused how Denver would be the best possible choice for a coach of Payton's caliber because he'd get high-scrutiny matchups with Mahomes and Herbert twice per year, and how taking a job in Carolina or elsewhere would be akin to making an NFL disappearing act. Suddenly, Cowherd's tune has changed. 

The only reason I could see it changing, considering that both Cowherd and Payton collect their paychecks from FOX Sports, is because that's what the radio host is suddenly hearing from the man himself. What does that mean? 

Either Payton truly has gotten cold feet on the Broncos, or — and this is a big, conspicuous probability — he's using his media contacts and platform to leverage the Walton/Penner group to ensure that he gets that mythical $25M/year. 

As of the writing of this article, the Broncos have yet to officially schedule a second interview with Payton, or any of the candidates interviewed in the first round of these sit-downs. We'll see how Penner takes to being toyed with in the media by Payton and just how badly he wants to close this deal. 

Stay tuned.