Reaction to the Broncos Hiring of Sean Payton as Head Coach [OPINION]


Last year, after the acquisition of Russell Wilson and head coach Nathanial Hackett, the Broncos organization and fans had high expectations for the season.

However, things didn’t go as planned.

The Broncos ended 5-12  and produced one of the worst offenses of all time and THE worst offense in Broncos history. Further, because of Russell Wilson, they don’t have a first-round pick or a second-round pick in this upcoming draft. 

Simply put, the Broncos dug themselves into a hole that they couldn’t crawl out of.

However, on January 31st, a glimmer of hope was sparked in all Broncos fans as the Broncos organization traded for former Saints’ head coach, Sean Payton.

Prior to the acquisition, me and my fellow  sports writer, Andre Brown, wrote about who we believed the Broncos should hire. We then interviewed students around Grandview to see who they wanted.

I chose Demeco Ryans, who’s now the 6th head coaching hire in Houston Texans history, and returned to the place where his NFL career started as a player.

Andre chose Jim Harbaugh. Although Harbaugh looked like a strong and possible candidate for the hire, he ended up taking his name off the coaching list and returned to college football with the Michigan Wolverines.

Grandview chose Sean Payton and proved to be the true sports reporter.

On paper, the acquisition looks promising. Sean Payton, with the Saints, did something that all NFL teams strive to do; win a Super Bowl. In fact, to many, it’s disappointing that he only won 1. During his tenure in New Orleans (16 seasons!!), Payton’s offenses never finished outside the top 10 in total yards, and only twice finished outside top 10 in total points. Even during the later years when Drew Brees and the rest of the offense looked sluggish, Paytons offenses remained in the top 10(8th in 2018, 9th in 2019).

In comparison, Nathaniel Hackett’s biggest accomplishment is being friends with Aaron Rodgers. In Hacketts’ 9 seasons as a coach (including both as a head coach and an offensive coordinator), he only made the playoffs 4 times. 3 of which being led by Aaron Rodgers and offensive guru Matt LaFleur.

Sean Payton is a good coach. Who no doubt is an upgrade over Nathaniel Hackett. If anyone can dig the Broncos out of their hole, it’s him. I would even choose him to do this job over other candidates including Demeco Ryans and Jim Harbaugh.

However, something Broncos fans need to be aware of is that the Broncos needed to TRADE for Payton in order to acquire him. Payton was still under contract with the Saints even though his last game coaching was in 2021. Therefore, a trade would be necessary if anyone wanted to acquire him.

In the case for the Broncos, that meant a 2023 first-round pick, and a 2024 second-round pick. This in addition to the massive amounts of draft capital they gave to the Seahawks for Russell Wilson, leaves the Broncos a little shorthanded when it comes to picks.

The Broncos then proceeded to give Payton a $18 million dollar contract for 5 years. Making Payton one of the highest-paid coaches in the league. Now, going into the offseason, the Broncos only have $9 million in cap space, meaning any new acquisitions will be mediocre at best. Sadly, the Broncos cap situation isn’t coming to an end as, according to OverTheCap, the Broncos will be near the bottom in terms of cap space until at least 2025. 

If things do go badly with Payton and he can’t make the Broncos a contender, the Broncos will continue to be mediocre and bad with little draft capital and cap space.

Having a newer front office and GM group, it’s understandable that they would want to make a splash this year after their first season went so poorly. The trade has both tremendous upside and a massive downside, and the risky move is something the front office is banking on.

Payton will either bring the Broncos offense back to stardom and help make the Broncos a contender, or he will be the final straw in making the Broncos for years to come.