AP Photo/Derick Hingle
New Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton is looking forward to working with quarterback Russell Wilson, telling Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune/NOLA.com that he’s “excited.”
“Russell is a hard worker and has played at a high level and won a lot of games in this league,” Payton said. “The pressure is on us to put a good run game together and reduce the degree of difficulty on his position. I’m excited about him.”
The New Orleans Saints have reportedly agreed to trade their ex-head coach, who remained under contract with the team through 2024 after stepping down following the 2021 campaign, to the Broncos for draft compensation. ESPN’s Adam Schefter provided the details.
The Broncos and Saints have yet to officially confirm the news, although Payton has since confirmed it himself.
Payton led the Saints for 16 seasons, winning a Super Bowl in 2009 and ultimately leading New Orleans to nine playoff appearances and seven NFC South titles.
He now heads to Denver in hopes of fixing a franchise that entered last year with great expectations but fell well short of them, finishing last in the AFC West with a 5-12 mark.
Those expectations were buoyed by a trade with the Seattle Seahawks for Wilson, but he finished 27th in quarterback rating and 28th in ESPN’s QBR stat out of 33 qualifying signal-callers, per Pro Football Reference. His 16 touchdown passes and 84.4 passer rating were both career-low marks. The Broncos also finished last in scoring.
Wilson’s time in Seattle was far more prosperous. The nine-time Pro Bowler completed 65.0 percent of his passes for 292 touchdowns (just 87 interceptions) and 37,059 passing yards (7.8 yards per attempt).
Payton also joins the Broncos with a fantastic track record of success. Of note, the Saints finished top 12 in scoring in all 15 seasons (2006-2020) he and quarterback Drew Brees were together.
Coach and quarterback have found great success at previous stops. Whether they can recreate some magic in Denver remains to be seen, but at the very least, the Payton-Wilson provides hope that the Broncos can turn their fortunes around.