Report: If Sean Payton takes coaching job, it’s “lining up” to be the Broncos

Jan 18, 2023, 12:36 PM | Updated: 3:14 pm

*This story has been updated below*

When the Broncos started looking for a new head coach, it felt like a two-horse race.

Either Jim Harbaugh or Sean Payton would be the next man in charge in Denver. Whether that was fantasy or turns into reality remains to be seen, but the odds are now sliced in half.

On Monday, Harbaugh announced he’d be returning to the University of Michigan to continue coaching his alma matter. The Broncos didn’t have any time to lick their wounds, interviewing Payton on Tuesday morning. And on Tuesday night, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero relayed some news that will make Denver fans smile.

“It sure seems like, though, if Sean Payton is going to take a job in this cycle, everything is lining up for Denver,” Pelissero said on his show ‘The Insiders’ with Ian Rapoport. “Including the fact that their other top candidate, besides Dan Quinn the Cowboys defensive coordinator, is Jim Harbaugh, who once things didn’t advance quickly enough decided ‘peace out, I’m going back to Michigan.'”

What Pelissero is saying essentially confirms what we’ve all been thinking. It was either Harbaugh or Payton, with Quinn also a possibility. Even though the competition for Payton includes the Texans, Panthers and Cardinals, it sounds like if he’s going to take a job, it will be with the Broncos.

But that’s a key “if” right now. As Rapoport points out immediately after Pelissero finishes talking, no one is quite sure what Payton wants right now. Is it the Denver job or a return to television? Could he wait another season until a better gig opens up this time next year? They’re all valid points.

So, at this point, all we can do is wait and see. Broncos CEO Greg Penner and his search committee have two more interviews this week, including Quinn on Friday before likely make a decision. Stay tuned, because we’ll know the next head coach sooner rather than later.

(Update 3:14 p.m.) –

104.3 The Fan’s Mark Schlereth made similar comments to Pelissero’s on his radio show “Schlereth and Evans” on Wednesday morning. Remember “Stink” also works at FOX as a color analyst, so he and Payton are co-workers.

“Either the Broncos are going to get Sean Payton, or he’s going back to TV,” Schlereth said. “Because he said ownership is the most important thing and then the quarterback. There’s only one team right now that has two parameters in my opinion, and that’s the Broncos.”

Denver has Russell Wilson in the fold. It might be a broken Wilson, but he’s still a guy who made nine Pro Bowls in 10 years to start his career and two Super Bowls, winning one.

“They have a quarterback. Now, he didn’t play well, but we saw what he could be, and Sean Payton talked about what he could be during the course of the season, if in fact you put him in the Seattle offense where he had grown accustomed to. And you adhere to that and you make him do those things,” Schlereth said.

Plus, Denver has the richest owners in the NFL. The Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group (WPFOG) has a net-worth of more than $60 billion, more than doubling the next wealthiest in the league. For Payton, that matters, along with having power to do things his way without an owner looking over his shoulder.

“And you’ve got deep pocketed owners who I don’t believe are going to be meddlesome. There’s one destination and one destination only right now if you’re Sean Payton. Unless you just want to wait it out and see what happens next year and go back to television,” Schlereth said.

To listen to full episodes of “Schlereth and Evans,” click here.



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