Payton Comes to Denver at Steep Price, with High Expectations

Payton Comes to Denver at Steep Price, with High Expectations
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

The three-time Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos’ fall from NFL grace has been demoralizing for their fans. Now, the life preserver the franchise is frantically grasping for is a coach who worked miracles for another desperate team.

Sean Payton, who breathed life into the Saints following the team’s post-Katrina return to New Orleans, now has the reclamation project that was once a proud Broncos franchise. Denver limped to a 5-12 season in 2022 (their sixth consecutive losing campaign) and coach Nathaniel Hackett was fired after 15 games.

Colorado sportsbooks, which continue to grow since becoming legal in 2020, will be watching closely.

Payton Comes at a Cost

Colorado sports betting users have a lot to be excited about, and betting on the Broncos could be fruitful moving forward. However, for Denver, Payton doesn’t come cheap.  Despite walking away from the Saints after the 2021 season, he was still under contract to New Orleans. Hence, Denver had to make a deal for him, and the price was the Broncos' 2023 first-round pick (No. 29 overall) and their 2024 second-round pick.  In addition to the 59-year-old head coach, Denver got the Saints’ 2024 third-round pick.

Payton’s resume, of course, glitters with his accomplishments in New Orleans, where he won a Super Bowl following the 2009 season and notched nine playoff seasons with 10 or more wins. He was suspended, however, for a year in 2012 over a bounty scandal.

After landing with Denver, Payton immediately drew some comparisons between his New Orleans experience and now. "Great fan base. Great tradition," Payton was quoted as saying about Denver. "The ownership group is fantastic, and I love the way they competed last year. It's a great football city like we had in New Orleans."

Beyond the fan appetite for NFL football and the fact that both teams were coming off sorry seasons upon Payton’s arrival, there really isn’t much that is similar, though.

Payton with Saints

When Payton got to New Orleans, fans there were just happy the team wasn’t relocated to, say, San Antonio. In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and turned the Superdome into a dispirited refuge for storm victims, the football team was a band of nomads playing home games at San Antonio’s Alamodome. The Saints finished 3-13 and head coach Jim Haslett was fired. The quarterbacks? They would have been Aaron Brooks and Todd Bouman, who together accounted for 15 touchdown passes and 24 interceptions.

So, when Payton showed up and the Saints had successfully wooed free agent quarterback Drew Brees - who some suspected of being damaged goods following shoulder surgery - the New Orleans fans were just happy to have an NFL team to call their own again.

Of course, the rest is NFL lore.  In their first year, the Payton-Brees Saints went 10-6 and advanced to the franchise’s first-ever NFC Championship Game, where they lost to Chicago. That began a Golden Age for the Saints that included the Super Bowl XLIV win.

But the point is that Payton arrived in New Orleans with very little expectations on him.

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The Difference in Denver

It’s different in Denver. The Broncos’ fan base has been used to success and considers the recent run of down seasons an aberration.  The expectations on Payton will be high.  As a celebrated offensive coach, he will be expected to “fix” underperforming quarterback Russell Wilson, who also will continue to have high expectations on him considering the hefty draft price the Broncos paid Seattle for him. And Payton will have to win soon without much immediate help in the upcoming NFL Draft.  The Broncos have six picks in the 2023 draft but none in Rounds 1 and 2.

So, in this case of trying to rally a program as the franchise’s new coach, Payton will have to show that he is worth the draft picks the Broncos surrendered to be the beneficiaries of his coaching genius.

As the Super Bowl fades and the 2023 season draws closer, look for BetMGM Colorado promo codes and those for other operators when you think about betting for or against the Broncos playoff chances this season.

Other Coaches with Draft Compensation

In recent NFL history, some other franchises have surrendered potential roster help (meaning draft picks) to get a coach that was perceived as a difference-maker.

BetColorado.com researched the Super Bowl era. Here are some of those occasions:

  • 1970: Miami signed a young defensive genius, Don Shula, who had lost a Super Bowl with the then-Baltimore Colts to the New York Jets.  Baltimore was awarded a first- rounder for Miami violating rules.
  • 1997: Bill Parcells joined the Jets and 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th rounders went to the Patriots (and no, none of them was Tom Brady).
  • 1999:  Mike Holmgren joined the Seahawks and Green Bay got a 2nd-round pick.
  • 2000: Bill Belichick began his run with the Patriots and the New York Jets got 1st, 4th and 5th-round picks.
  • 2002: Jon Gruden joined Tampa Bay but Raiders owner Al Davis drove a hard bargain getting two 1st rounders, two 2nd rounders, along with $8 million.
  • 2006: Herm Edwards joined the Kansas City Chiefs, and a 4th rounder went to the Jets.
  • 2019: Bruce Arians joined Tampa for a 6th-round pick to the Cardinals. Arians had stepped down in 2017, but he was still under contract to Arizona when he returned to the NFL.

As an aside, Arians had 28 assistants that year and finished 7-9. The next season, the Bucs signed Tom Brady and won the Super Bowl.

BetColorado.com will be coming your way with many stories of interest like this for sports bettors. Check the site also for Colorado sportsbook promos.

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Author

Bill Ordine, senior journalist and columnist for BetColorado.com, was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years. He covered the World Series of Poker for a decade and his articles on gaming have appeared in many major U.S. newspapers, such as the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald and others.

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