Sean Payton is now officially the head coach for the Denver Broncos, team owner and CEO Greg Penner announced Friday. Payton signed a five-year contract with the franchise, which keeps him in Denver through the 2027 season, according to ESPN.
Denver reportedly sent its first-round pick from San Francisco (No. 30 overall) and a 2024 second-round pick to New Orleans for its 2024 third-round pick.
Penner released the following statement to complement the hiring announcement:
"Sean Payton is an outstanding leader and Super Bowl champion with a brilliant offensive mind. 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.
"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. 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."
Payton, 59, last coached for the Saints in 2021 but was still under contract, which is why a trade needed to be negotiated. The Eastern Illinois grad's NFL coaching career began in 1997 with the Eagles. His 15-year journey across the league included three-quarters of the NFC East, excluding Washington, before his run as Saints' head coach in 2013.
While with New Orleans, he compiled a 152-89 record (.631 winning percentage) and a 9-8 record in the playoffs. The Saints were victorious in Super Bowl XLIV. He led the franchise through the Hurricane Katrina aftermath before getting caught up in the 2012 bounty scandal. Payton was suspended for the entire season, which gave him the honor of being the first head coach in the modern era to be suspended. The Associated Press bestowed Coach of the Year honors upon him in 2006 after his team went 10-6.
Under the direction of Payton and, largely, quarterback Drew Brees, the New Orleans offense ranked second in points per game (27.5), first in yards per game (391.4), first in third-down conversion (45.4%) and red zone conversion (61.1%) from 2006-2021.
Russell Wilson struggled in his first season with Denver since being acquired via trade with Seattle. He completed just 60% of his passes for 16 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and an 84.4 passer rating; all ranked 25th or worse across the league. Wilson went 4-11 as a starter resulting in the eventual firing of first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett.
The No. 30 overall selection has now changed hands on three separate occasions. It was originally held by San Francisco before being sent to Miami as part of the trade package that allowed the 49ers to select quarterback Trey Lance. The Dolphins then sent it to the Broncos in exchange for edge rusher Bradley Chubb. Now, it is sent to New Orleans as part of the Payton trade.
New Orleans was without a first-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft following the decision to acquire a second first-round selection from Philadelphia last year. The Eagles hold the No. 10 overall selection as a result. Denver is once again without a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after sending their own to the Seahawks as part of the Russell Wilson trade.