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Colin Cowherd: Russell Wilson Wants Sean Payton to Be Hired as Broncos HC

Erin WalshJanuary 19, 2023

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 8: Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson (3) passes in the first quarter during a game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on January 8, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Denver Broncos are searching for a new head coach, and quarterback Russell Wilson has a very specific person in mind for the job—former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.

Wilson has reached out to Payton to let him know that he wants him as the next head coach in Denver, according to Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports (h/t ProFootballTalk's Myles Simmons).

"Russell Wilson has contacted Sean — legally, by the way, through channels," Cowherd said during Thursday's episode of The Herd. "He wants Sean Payton. He needs fixing. He knows he needs fixing."

The Broncos are searching for a new head coach after firing first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett following a 4-11 start to the 2022 season.

Payton is one of the most sought-after head coaches on the market this offseason after stepping down as head coach of the Saints in January. He has been working for Fox Sports during the 2022 campaign.

The 59-year-old said during an appearance on the NewOrleans.Football podcast in December that he would be open to an NFL coaching return if the "right situation presented itself."

It's unclear if Payton believes the Broncos would be the right fit, though when asked to say what he was looking for in a franchise, he said "the most important element is functional ownership [and] front office."

Payton added that the "opportunity to win consistently and the willingness to build the correct culture" would be an important part of his decision. Working with Wilson, a Super Bowl champion and nine-time Pro Bowler, would give Payton the opportunity to win, provided the veteran signal-caller can bounce back.

Wilson had the worst season of his career in 2022, completing 60.5 percent of his passes for 3,524 yards and 16 touchdowns against 11 interceptions in 15 games, though it's reasonable to believe adding a coach like Payton would help him get back on track next year.

There should be plenty of competition for Payton's services this offseason, though NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported this week that the Broncos, Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers are the three teams willing to meet the asking price of the Saints to get Payton.

Payton said Monday during an appearance on The Herd that he believes the Saints will receive a "mid-or-later first-round pick" in exchange for his services, adding that the price could differ based on the draft picks interested teams have available. Payton's contract with the Saints runs through 2024 so any team that wants to hire him will have to provide New Orleans with compensation.

The Broncos haven't reached the playoffs since winning the Super Bowl during the 2015 season, so whoever is hired as their next head coach will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders.