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Five-year contract officially makes Sean Payton the Broncos new head coach

The former longtime Saints head coach took a season off before he was traded Tuesday to the Broncos.
Credit: AP
New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton works during the first half of an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Sean Payton is officially the Denver Broncos new head coach after the two parties reached agreement on a five-year contract Friday.

Payton, 59, arrived in Denver on Wednesday and has spent most of his time at Broncos headquarters since then working on assembling his coaching staff and watching film, a source told 9NEWS.

Final details on his contract were completed Friday afternoon.

“Sean Payton is an outstanding leader and Super Bowl champion with a brilliant offensive mind,'' Greg Penner said about his first head coach hire as Broncos owners and CEO. "He shares our commitment to winning championships for Broncos Country and we’re excited to welcome him as our new head coach.

“Sean knows how to build a championship culture with high expectations. He coaches with intensity and attention-to-detail while setting and maintaining high standards. Sean pours his heart and soul into winning with preparation, creativity and a genuine love of the game."

Payton had an average record of 10-6 in his 15 seasons as head coach of the New Orleans Saints. In his first season of 2006, he and new quarterback Drew Brees lifted the 3-13 Saints' team he inherited into a 10-6 playoff team that won a second-round playoff game before losing in the NFC Championship.

Payton's Saints won Super Bowl 44 to cap the 2009-season, successfully calling for an onside kick to start the second half that was key in upsetting Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts.

He led the Saints to three NFC Championship Games and narrowly missed a fourth in the 2017 season when he lost a heartbreaker on a final-play Minneapolis Miracle desperation pass.

Payton's Saints ranked in the top 10 in scoring in 12 of his 15 seasons and ranked in the top 9 in total offense in 13 seasons. 

Payton's Saints were on a remarkable three-year run of 13-3, 11-5 and 13-3 seasons from 2009-11, when he was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his alleged coverup of the team's Bountygate Scandal. 

The Saints went 7-9 without him, but he brought them back to 11-5 in 2013. Payton then took this past 2022 season off to recharge while he was still under contract with New Orleans through the 2024 season.

Salary terms on Payton's contract were not announced. Unlike players, coaches' salaries are rarely publicly revealed. But Payton reportedly was asking for a deal worth $20 million to $25 million a year and while the Broncos were not expected to go that high, it would be a surprising if he didn't get a deal worth north of $17 million a year.

The Broncos' head coaching search lasted 36 days -- from the time Nathaniel Hackett was fired on Dec. 26, the day after Denver suffered a humiliating, 51-14 Christmas Day loss at the Los Angeles Rams to when the Broncos acquired Payton in a trade Tuesday from the Saints -- with Penner, general manager George Paton and co-owner Condoleezza Rice interviewing eight candidates.

Controlling owner Rob Walton and co-owner Carrie Walton Penner were brought in for a next round of interviews. 

Besides Payton, the Broncos gave strong consideration to University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and San Franciso defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Harbaugh twice backed out of consideration to stay at Michigan and Ryans chose to become head coach of the Houston Texans.

The Broncos got the clear best offensive head coach candidate in Payton by trading away their first-round (No. 29 overall) draft pick and second-round 2024 draft pick to the Saints while getting back the coach and New Orleans' third-round 2024 selection.

“It is rare in any sport to hire a head coach with Sean’s credentials and we appreciate the first-class manner in which the Saints approached this process,'' Penner stated. "We also appreciated the opportunity to meet and learn from the other highly qualified, outstanding coaches we interviewed.

“Our goal was to identify a strong leader for the Denver Broncos who is focused on winning, and we found him in coach Payton.”




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