Was Sean Payton the Broncos’ second choice as head coach?
The Denver Broncos and Houston Texans both named new head coaches on Tuesday, and the news about the hires leaked minutes apart from each other. Based on the timing, it was easy to wonder whether the hirings were related.
One reporter is saying that was the case.
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported Tuesday that the Broncos made a second effort to try hiring 49ers defensive DeMeco Ryans. When Ryans affirmed his commitment to take the Houston Texans job, Rapoport says the Broncos moved to finalize a deal for Payton.
Unbelievable: The #Broncos spent today trying to hire DeMeco Ryans AGAIN today before he recommitted to the #Texans, sources say. When he agreed to terms with the Texans, they moved and finalized Sean Payton.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 31, 2023
Rapoport’s reporting suggests Payton was the Broncos’ second choice behind Ryans. But there are a few reasons that might not be the case.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter disputed Rapoport’s report.
Timing of today’s two hires was completely coincidental. Broncos were zeroed in on Sean Payton, and didn’t make any contact this week with DeMeco Ryans or his agent. Denver was focused on Payton, and Houston on Ryans.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 31, 2023
“Timing of today’s two hires was completely coincidental. Broncos were zeroed in on Sean Payton, and didn’t make any contact this week with DeMeco Ryans or his agent. Denver was focused on Payton, and Houston on Ryans,” Schefter reported.
Schefter says the Broncos didn’t even contact Ryans this week.
Whether Denver wanted Payton all along or whether he was their second choice behind Ryans is up to you to decide. But consider a few things.
One, it was in Denver’s interest to publicly suggest they had interest in another candidate in order to gain leverage in trade talks with the Saints, who held Payton’s rights. Two, giving up a 1st and a 2nd-round-pick is a lot for a coach you didn’t really want.
Whether Denver had legitimate interest in Ryans too or not, it helped their case to at least signal to New Orleans that they did.