BRONCOS

Reports: Broncos, Sean Payton mutually impressed, but Saints’ asking price could include ‘two first-round picks’

Jan 18, 2023, 7:22 PM
Sean Payton...
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Sean Payton impressed in his interview with the Broncos on Tuesday. And it seems like the feeling was mutual.

Wednesday, reports emerged regarding Payton’s interview with Broncos officials, which took place at a Los Angeles-area hotel. KUSA-Ch. 9’s Mike Klis reported — citing “sources” — that Payton was “as impressive as one would expect for a guy with such a head coaching pedigree.” And Jeff Duncan, long-time reporter and columnist for the New Orleans Advocate and NOLA.com, reported that Payton was “particularly impressed with the Broncos group.”

But if the Broncos want Payton, it could cost them.

Per Duncan’s report, Saints general manager Mickey Loomis wants a steep price for Payton’s rights:

Loomis’ stance is if a team is willing to pay Payton a deal worth roughly half that of a franchise quarterback, then the draft pick compensation should be of equivalent value.

He’s seeking compensation similar to what the Oakland Raiders received from Tampa Bay in exchange for Jon Gruden in 2002, with two first-round draft picks being the starting point. If future first-round picks are part of the offer, then they would have to be supplemented by higher picks this season.

For the Broncos, that level of deal could not happen without a future Round 1 pick.

Another potential suitor, Carolina, doesn’t have two first-round selections this year. But the Panthers do have two second-round picks. Further, their first-round selection is at the No. 9 spot. The Broncos’ first-round pick — which originally belonged to the San Francisco 49ers — will be no better than No. 24.

Ultimately, the Saints can put the kibosh on a Payton return. They hold his rights for another two seasons. No team would be able to hire Payton without seeking compensation from New Orleans until the 2025 hiring cycle.

But the Saints have motivation to deal now. They don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft, having dealt that pick to the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

According to Duncan’s report, Loomis has conveyed within the Saints organization that he is “comfortable” waiting a year to receive what he believes is fair compensation for Payton’s rights.

Last week, Loomis told New Orleans-area media at his end-of-season press conference that he felt he had “duty” to “maximize” Payton’s value.

***
THE BRONCOS HAVE OTHER OPTIONS …

… and those could become clear when this week ends.

The Broncos’ search committee of Greg Penner, Condoleezza Rice and George Paton concludes this week’s interviews with San Francisco defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans on Thursday and Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn on Friday. Their teams square off Sunday in the divisional round.

Klis also reported that Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris “also impressed the Broncos’ trio with his preparation and plan to win.” Penner, Rice and Paton interviewed Morris on Tuesday. Morris has prior head-coaching experience; he helmed the Buccaneers from 2009-11.

Former Stanford head coach David Shaw also “impressed” Broncos brass, Klis reported. The group interviewed Shaw on Jan. 11 in California.

The process is expected to wind into next week. According to Klis, the Broncos will fly one to three finalists to Colorado for a second round of interviews. Penner, Carrie Walton Penner and Rob Walton will conduct those interviews.

***

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