Report: Broncos to Be 'Ultra-Aggressive' in Hiring New HC; Will 'Spare No Expense'

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 1, 2023

INGLEWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 25: Denver Broncos helmet during the NFL game between the Denver Broncos and the Los Angeles Rams on December 25, 2022, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Denver Broncos are reportedly expected to go all-out in their pursuit of a head coach to replace the recently fired Nathaniel Hackett.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Penner-Walton ownership group will be "ultra-aggressive" and are "not expected to spare any expense or cut any corners" as they search for a long-term answer at head coach.

Hackett, who was hired before the Penner-Walton group purchased the Broncos over the summer for $4.65 billion that is a U.S. record for a sports franchise, was fired Monday after a disappointing 4-11 start to the season.

After missing the playoffs in six straight seasons, the Broncos made some significant offseason moves in order to turn things around.

They fired head coach Vic Fangio and replaced him with Hackett, who had enjoyed immense success as the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator from 2019-21, but the 43-year-old didn't appear to be cut out for the challenges of being an NFL head coach.

An even bigger move three months later saw Denver acquire future Hall of Fame quarterback Russell Wilson and a fourth-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for two first-round picks, two second-round picks, a fifth-round pick, tight end Noah Fant, quarterback Drew Lock and defensive lineman Shelby Harris.

Wilson was expected to be the final piece to a championship-contending puzzle, as the Broncos already had a talented defense and some quality offensive weapons in running back Javonte Williams and wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton.

Instead, the Broncos have the NFL's worst scoring offense at 15.5 points per game, and Wilson has thrown for just 3,019 yards, 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 games.

Denver signed Wilson to a five-year, $242.5 million contract extension in September, so it has little choice other than to try to make it work with him at the helm of the offense.

Rebuilding around Wilson won't be easy since the Seahawks own their 2023 first- and second-round picks, although the Broncos did recoup a first-rounder by trading pass-rusher Bradley Chubb for the Miami Dolphins' 2023 first-round selection.

Schefter noted that former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is perhaps the most sought-after coach available currently, which makes sense given the success he enjoyed in New Orleans.

In 15 seasons with the Saints, Payton went 152-89 and led the team to nine playoff appearances and one Super Bowl win.

Since Payton retired at the end of the 2021 season, the Saints still own his rights, meaning any team that hires him would have to send New Orleans compensation, likely in the form of draft picks.

Trading more picks wouldn't be ideal for a Broncos team that has many needs, but if the ownership group and president of football operations John Elway believe Payton is the guy who can get Wilson right and turn the franchise around, Schefter's report suggests the organization will do what it has to in order to land him.