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Denver Broncos receive permission to interview Sean Payton for head coaching vacancy

Sean Payton
Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos know they’ll have Russell Wilson as the starting quarterback in 2023. But we don’t know who his head coach will be. Nathaniel Hackett is out, Jerry Rosburg is the interim. Is it possible Sean Payton becomes the coach tasked with getting the most out of the $230 million-dollar quarterback?

It’s a complicated process. Payton, who’s reportedly seeking a way back into the NFL, albeit possibly not with the New Orleans Saints, who still have the Super Bowl-winning head coach’s rights, would have to be traded.

Past trades for coaches such as Jon Gruden and Bill Belichick have required a first-round pick, and that’s the expected baseline for Payton as well. But that potential cost doesn’t appear to be enough to scare the Broncos away.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Saints have granted the Broncos permission to interview Payton for their head coaching vacancy. While the organization has received the green light to speak with the Saints coach of 15 seasons, they are not allowed to interview him in person until January 17.

What’s key here, according to Pro Football Talk, is that the Broncos and only the Broncos have been given permission to speak with Payton. This does not mean they can negotiate or even offer him a contract, but for now, they are the only team who can sit down with the 59-year-old head coach.

Related: Ranking best potential NFL head coach openings in 2023

Denver Broncos could be an ideal fit for Sean Payton

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

If Payton wasn’t thrilled about his situation with the Saints during his final seasons, with limited cap space and few other opportunities to secure a franchise QB since Drew Brees’ retirement, the thought of having Russell Wilson might be captivating.

While Wilson’s stock is at an all-time low, Payton may be intrigued by the chance to get the future Hall of Fame QB back on track with his own offensive system that worked wonders in New Orleans.

For Payton, he gets to work with a nine-time Pro Bowl QB, who’s still just 34 and has more mobility than Brees ever had. He knows of Wilson’s work ethic and desire to improve. Compared to the situation he left in New Orleans, with Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, and Taysom Hill, how bad could a Wilson reclamation project be?

Payton could also see Denver’s new ownership’s willingness to spend as a bonus, knowing he’s with an organization that spares no expense in the pursuit of another Super Bowl.

Making all this come together is the fact that the Broncos have what currently projects to be the 29th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. If a first-round pick is what gets discussions started to pry Payton away from the Saints, the Broncos have what it takes, and the ownership can worry about the blank check for an experienced and proven head coach later.

Related: Denver Broncos believe they can ‘fix’ Russell Wilson