Biggest questions surrounding Broncos coaching hire; what’s next for New Orleans, Denver?

After making the biggest splash move last offseason by trading two first-round and two second-round picks for Russell Wilson, the Denver Broncos were back with another blockbuster trade Tuesday.

The Broncos reached an agreement with the New Orleans Saints on compensation for Super Bowl winner Sean Payton’s head coach, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Payton went 152-89 in his 15 seasons as Saints head coach, including a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints will receive the Broncos’ 2023 first-round pick (No. 29 overall) and their 2024 second-round pick for Payton and the Saints’ 2024 third-round pick, sources said.

Denver will be hoping for better results from this move after Wilson has struggled for most of the season. The Broncos finished bottom in the league averaging 16.9 points per game, which resulted in first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett being fired after a 4-11 start.

ESPN Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold, Saints reporter Katherine Terrell and draft analyst Matt Miller break down the deal from all sides.

What’s the history of coaches being traded for first-round draft picks?

Ahead of Tuesday’s trading in Payton, three trainers were traded for packs that included a first-rounder:

In 1997, Bill Parcells was traded from Patriots to Jets for four picks (1997 3rd, 1997 4th, 1998 2nd, 1999 1st). In 2000, Bill Belichick was traded from the Jets to the Patriots for three draft picks (2000 1st, 2001 4th, 2001 7th). The Patriots got back two picks (5th in 2001, 7th in 2002) from the Jets. In 2002, Jon Gruden was traded from Raiders to Buccaneers for four picks (2002 1st, 2002 2nd, 2003 1st, 2004 2nd) and $8 million.

The Baltimore Colts also eventually got a first-round pick from the Miami Dolphins for Don Shula. The NFL ruled that Miami had violated rules of manipulation in recruiting the coach and forced them to abandon the election. – ESPN Statistics and Analysis

Why did this move make sense for Payton?

Payton loves a challenge and likes to say “crisis or carnival” to refer to how a team responds to the weekly tests that come up throughout the season. Wilson will be a big part of that challenge. Payton has offered his plan to “fix” Wilson in public interviews this year. Not only does Payton get a chance to try to bring a veteran quarterback back to his former winning form, but he also inherits a unit that ranked seventh in total defense. It’s also Payton’s chance to show he can win without future Hall of Famer quarterback Drew Brees, who he dated for 15 seasons in New Orleans. — Terrell

Why did Denver think it was worth giving up draft picks — including a first-rounder — for Payton?

The fact that the Saints were ready to take the No. 29 pick overall was probably a key part of the deal. General manager George Paton acquired the pick from the Miami Dolphins (the Dolphins originally got it from the San Francisco 49ers) in exchange for Bradley Chubb in November. The Broncos didn’t have the draft capital of some other teams in pursuit of Payton because they gave up five picks, including first- and second-rounders in 2022 and 2023, as part of the Wilson trade. They had hoped to keep their first-rounder from 2024 and give up no more than one first-rounder in a potential deal for Payton. The Saints’ willingness to agree to a deal that included the 29th pick for a second-rounder in 2024 (they don’t have a second-rounder this year) means the Broncos won’t pick until the third round next year, but it always was yet another price they were willing to pay to get the kind of resume Payton brings. — Legwold

Why did the Saints decide this was the right move?

The Saints knew from the day Payton stepped down that he could be back on the sidelines by 2023 — whether with them or not. Saints general manager Mickey Loomis didn’t want to stop Payton from returning, but he also wanted proper compensation. That compensation would have dropped drastically if Payton hadn’t found a team by 2024, the final year of his Saints deal. The Saints now have a chance to get back into Day 1 of the draft and won’t walk away empty-handed after unexpectedly losing their coach last year. So bleak is their quarterback future that Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan tweeted his desire for the Saints to move in a minute after the Payton news broke. The first-round picks could certainly help them get back into the mix — including providing more draft capital if they wanted to try and make a trade to draft a quarterback. – Terell

What does this mean for Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson?

Wilson called Payton “one of the best in the world” after the Broncos’ win over the Los Angeles Chargers in the season finale and said “the magic that you would have on the field was amazing” with Payton’s teams. So it’s safe to say he’ll be on board with this move. After a career-low 16 touchdown passes in a season that saw his team finish with the worst record (5-12) of any season in his career, Wilson will be ready to turn the page. When Broncos owner and CEO Greg Penner said he wanted the new coach to bring a “culture of accountability,” Penner opined that everyone, including Wilson, needs to be better in 2023. And Payton is tasked with making it happen. — Legwold

The Saints now have a first-round pick. What is their biggest need and who might fit there?

By far the Saints’ greatest need is the quarterback. Andy Dalton is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and while Jameis Winston still has a year left on the two-year contract he signed in 2022, there’s no guarantee he’ll return to New Orleans. But on pick #29, I don’t have a late first-round grade on any quarterback in this class. You could rotate to look for upgrades in the line of defense. Keion White (Georgia Tech), Derick Hall (Auburn) and Tuli Tuipulotu (USC) could all be targets for New Orleans, which also holds No. 40 overall at the start of Round 2. miller

How much power, beyond that of a head coach, will Payton wield?

Even as Penner cited last season’s mistakes, including all the things that led to Hackett’s firing, he said Paton would play a significant role in building the roster. Paton was also part of the group Penner worked with on coaching. Payton has told the Broncos during the interview process that he feels comfortable working with Paton. Both will respond to Penner, so he may have to settle a dispute or two along the way as the Broncos are willing to have what Penner has called a “traditional” setup, with the head coach and general manager each responding to the owner . — Legwold Biggest questions surrounding Broncos coaching hire; what’s next for New Orleans, Denver?

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