Broncos Disagree to deal with Saints to hire Sean Payton as head coach?

 Sean Payton is back in the NFL.

The Denver Broncos finalized a deal Tuesday to acquire their next head coach from the New Orleans Saints, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported, per sources.

New Orleans will receive a 2023 first-round pick (No. 29 overall) and a 2024 second-round selection from Denver in exchange for Payton's services, as well as a future third-round pick, Rapoport added. Payton was still under contract with the Saints despite stepping down after the 2021 season, necessitating a complicated trade between New Orleans and any potential suitor -- and there were a few.

Payton, who spent this season as a studio analyst for Fox Sports, interviewed with four of the five teams with head coaching vacancies (Broncos, Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans).

As for the Broncos, they saw their fair share of candidates, as well, before settling on hiring Payton. The search for their next head coach took more than a month after Denver fired Nathaniel Hackett the day after Christmas, just 15 games into his first season with the team.

Per Rapoport, the Broncos were targeting Ryans, who had led the 49ers defense to top-three finishes in his two years at the helm there, after their first round of interviews before the Texans locked in on him. Denver then flew to Ann Arbor last week to make another push at Harbaugh, who had success in the NFL as head coach of the 49ers in the 2010s. When that failed, Rapoport reported Tuesday, Denver started to negotiate a Payton deal and then made a last-ditch effort to hire Ryans, but the coordinator, whose season ended with San Francisco's NFC title game loss Sunday, was set on Houston.

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The Broncos, under new leadership led by owner and CEO Greg Penner, interviewed eight candidates, from the college ranks (Jim Harbaugh, David Shaw) to the coordinator pool (Ejiro Evero, Raheem Morris, Dan Quinn, DeMeco Ryans) and veteran head coaches (Jim Caldwell, Payton) with targets dropping off along the way -- Harbaugh put out a statement saying he was staying at Michigan, and Quinn returned to the Cowboys.

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