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#pounditFriday, February 23, 2024

Report: Broncos still pursuing 2 huge-name head coach candidates

George Paton before a game

Nov 28, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos general manager George Paton before the game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos have yet to land one of their top head coach targets in the early part of the hiring cycle, but that does not mean they are moving on to new candidates.

Sean Payton and John Harbaugh were at one point viewed as plans 1A and 1B for the Broncos. Harbaugh has since publicly reaffirmed his commitment to Michigan, while Payton appears to be leaning toward remaining with FOX.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Broncos may not have crossed either coach off their short list. Rapoport on Tuesday told “The Pat McAfee Show” that he is not ready to eliminate either Payton or Harbaugh as possibilities in Denver.

“There are two things that could be happening right now, and they are opposites. One is that Denver collecting itself and getting ready to put in new slips to restart their search. Or, they are going to someone who has not yet been eliminated,” Rapoport said. “Many of the candidates have been eliminated.

“When Harbaugh officially signs his (new deal with Michigan) I will eliminate him, but I don’t think that’s been eliminated 1000 percent. And Sean Payton has not been eliminated. Until Sean Payton says I’m definitely going back to TV or Harbaugh says I’m definitely going back to Michigan, those are still options.”

Harbaugh may not have officially signed a new contract with Michigan, but he explicitly told the school he will be back next season. Though, he also said last offseason that he was done flirting with NFL teams. There have been signs that the Broncos are not giving up on pursuing Harbaugh.

Payton is probably more in play for Denver than Harbaugh at this point. The former New Orleans Saints coach has not made any firm statements about his future. Though, it sounds like his quest for a new head coach job may have hit an unexpected snag.

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