The first known formal interview request from the Broncos in their search to replace Nathaniel Hackett is a big one.
Denver filed a request with the NFL to talk with former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, a league source confirmed to The Post on Saturday afternoon. ESPN first reported the request.
Payton, of course, coached the Saints to a Super Bowl victory and helmed the franchise from 2006-21 before leaving the job and not coaching for the 2022 season.
The cost of acquiring Payton will be steep in more than one regard. He’s not only sure to command top dollar as one of the most successful head coaches available on the market this winter, but he also remains under contract with the Saints.
As such, the Broncos or any other team will have to pay Payton a premium salary and also compensate the Saints in a trade. The cost on the trade front is likely to depend on how many teams are vying for his services, but in 2002 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forked over two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million to acquire Jon Gruden as their head coach.
Payton’s been suggesting for months that he would return to the coaching ranks as early as 2023. One question is whether he’ll be interested in the challenge of trying to revive 34-year-old quarterback Russell Wilson’s career in Denver.
Earlier this season on The Herd, he had suggestions for how he’d go about getting Wilson on track.
“You correct flaws immediately and then we don’t worry about how long the process is going to take,” he said. “In other words, I’d want cut-ups today of all Russell’s past plays of 30 or more yards from the field and I’d want to see if, are there some schemes that he felt very comfortable with? For instance, I know in Seattle they did a great job of bringing him off of a naked boot and then pulling up. That throwback to Lockett across the field where the ball traveled 60 yards in the air. Then I’d want another film of his red zone touchdown passes inside the 20.
“What I’m asking for from assistants is I’m asking for some of his greatest hits and to make sure that we have those song lyrics available. If not, let’s put them in.”
Payton, 58, is the first of what is likely to be several NFL coaches the Broncos and CEO Greg Penner, who is running the coaching search, want to talk with. Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, for example, was a finalist for the job a year ago and could be in consideration again.
College coaches like Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh do not go through the formal interview request process that coaches for NFL franchises do.
ESPN reported that the league decided any in-person interviews with Payton cannot take place until Jan. 17.
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