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Would Sean Payton want the Broncos job?

Mike Florio and Chris Simms unpack the Broncos’ decision to fire Nathaniel Hackett with two weeks remaining in the regular season and who the organization should look at to navigate the Russell Wilson struggle.

The moment a coaching vacancy arose in Denver on Monday, speculation emerged regarding the possibility of former Saints coach Sean Payton getting the job.

While money won’t be an issue for the new owners of the team, there are other considerations for someone like Payton, who could take pretty much any vacant job he wants.

First, given that Payton has reportedly lined up Vic Fangio to be his defensive coordinator, a return to Denver for the former Broncos head coach could be a little awkward, to say the least. Yes, Gunther Cunningham once returned to the Chiefs as defensive coordinator after serving as head coach. It would still be an odd turn, only a year after Fangio was fired by G.M. George Paton.

Second, how much power would Payton have? No-Y Paton is the G.M., presumably with all rights and responsibilities under his contract to shape the roster, select draft picks, etc. Sean Payton will presumably want to run the show. With Paton still there, Payton may not be interested.

Third, what does Payton think about Russell Wilson? The organization believes the franchise quarterback is fixable. Does Payton believe that? During the season, Payton explained what he’d do to get the most out of Wilson, focusing on the things he used to do in Seattle. What if Wilson can’t do the things he used to do in Seattle?

My own read on the situation, for what it’s worth (not much), is that Wilson has lost just enough of his mobility to throw off his entire game. He doesn’t trust his legs to buy separation and the extra time that goes with it, so he doesn’t even try to do it, not as much as he once did.

So if Payton simply thinks Wilson can’t play at a high level, Payton wouldn’t want the job. Unless, of course, Payton believes he could nudge Wilson toward the kind of self-awareness that would get him to retire.

Fourth, and finally, the Broncos would have to be willing to give the Saints what they’d want as compensation for Payton’s contractual rights. The Saints were ready to do it earlier this year, when Payton was going to be hired by the Dolphins. The fact that the Broncos are also in the AFC could make the Saints more willing to do a deal than they’d be if/when Payton wants to coach an NFC team, like the Cowboys.

All things considered, it would take a lot to get Payton to want the Broncos job. Above all else, he’d have to believe in Wilson. If Payton does, he’d be in a shrinking minority of those who do.