The Denver Broncos hired Sean Payton as their head coach through a trade with the New Orleans Saints. Here’s what it means for quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Denver Broncos have found themselves a new head coach, and perhaps the most prolific one available this offseason. On Tuesday, the Broncos agreed to trade their 2023 first-round and 2024 second-round draft picks in exchange for head coach Sean Payton and a 2024 third-round pick. With that, they have a former Super Bowl-winning head coach on their sidelines in Payton, who shined during his time with the New Orleans Saints.
This is now the second consecutive offseason in which the Broncos have made a big swing. This year, it was Payton. Last year, it was then-Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. The move, well, didn’t necessarily work out, as Wilson struggled mightily and the team finished with a 5-12 record despite the fact that heading into the season, they were expected to contend for a playoff spot.
So, what does the hiring of Payton mean for Wilson?
What Sean Payton hire means for Russell Wilson
Well, it shows that the Broncos are devoted to making the Wilson transaction worthwhile. Because the first year has many fans of the Broncos and football diehards concerned about Wilson’s future.
Last year, the Broncos gave Nathaniel Hackett a shot as head coach. But the former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator who mostly called red zone plays didn’t fare too well. There was clock and game management issues, Denver’s offense with Wilson at quarterback with all of the pass-catching options at his disposal, ranked near the bottom of the league, and the offensive line gave up a league-high 63 sacks. This isn’t deflecting blame away from Wilson, as he didn’t look sharp throughout the 2022 campaign.
After 15 games, the Broncos saw enough out of Hackett, firing him the day after their Christmas Day debacle against the Los Angeles Rams. The search was on for a head coach, and it felt as though the position wouldn’t be desirable due in part to Wilson signing a five-year, $242.6 million contract extension that doesn’t officially kick in until after the 2023 season. But, the Broncos and Payton had interest, and they were able to strike a deal.
Payton has a reputation for putting up some of the most prolific offenses during his time as an offensive play-caller. Dating back to his time as offensive coordinator for the New York Giants in 2002 until he was hired to be the head coach of the Saints in 2006.
When looking at his 15 seasons as head coach of the Saints, they were ranked top five in total yards of offense per game in 10 of them, via Pro Football Reference. In terms of scoring, they ranked in the top five nine times out of the 15 years. Yes, those numbers can be attributed to Drew Brees. But even in his final season where he missed time due to broke ribs and his production dropped off, the Saints ranked fifth in scoring. That is promising if you are a Broncos fan.
Payton has talent to work with. The Broncos have a star in the backfield in running back Javonte Williams. They have pass-catchers in Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton. Payton can find a way to make things easier for Wilson. But they will need to bring in some offensive line help to make that a reality.
If the Payton hiring proves one thing, it’s that the Broncos are committed to Wilson, and feel that this head coach can help him succeed for the foreseeable future.