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Sean Payton trade grades: Broncos hire Russell Wilson’s perfect coach, Saints score key draft capital

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The Broncos needed to swing for the fences with their next head coach to make the most of having Russell Wilson at quarterback. They hit a grand slam by trading for and hiring Sean Payton. 

Although Denver gave some significant draft capital to land their 20th coach in franchise history, it needed to end the cycle of short stints by coaches post Super Bowl 50, in which they took home the Lombardi trophy under Gary Kubiak. Vance Joseph, Vic Fangio and Nathaniel Hackett were big rookie reaches and they all struck out.

Here’s looking at why Payton won’t fail in becoming the true offensive-minded coach Wilson needs at a career crossroads going into his second season with a new team:

Sean Payton trade details

  • Broncos get: Rights to hire Sean Payton, 2024 third-round draft pick
  • Saints get: 2023 first-round draft pick, 2024 second-round draft pick

MORE: What draft picks Broncos sent to Saints in return for Sean Payton

Sean Payton trade grades

Broncos grade: A+

Russell Wilson needed the ultimate quarterback whisperer and someone who could meet him halfway in adjusting the offense to his talents while also keeping concepts to make him more efficient again.

Payton should have the same major effect on Wilson that he had on another undersized albeit less mobile QB in New Orleans — future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.

Payton did two amazing things with Brees. He made him an aggressive, effective downfield-passing QB while also working him to keep him well protected. Brees always had a healthy yards per attempt for the Saints and was consistently one of the league’s least-sacked quarterbacks.

For the second time in four season, Wilson was the most-sacked quarterback in the NFL (55 times) in 2022. He also worked through the worst completion percentage of his career, 60.5 percent. With Payton, Brees led the league in completion percentage six times, getting above 70 percent seven times.

Before getting Wilson running, which he has tended to do less as a QB a decade-plus into his NFL career, Payton will help the QB get the ball out quick in a more rhythmic passing game and set him up to be more calculated in his deep shots, whether it’s off effective play-action or from extending plays outside of the pocket with his legs.

Payton can help Jerry Jeudy deliver as a top possession receiver in the slot and also tap more into Courtland Sutton’s play as a dominant downfield option. He also will get more out of an athletic young tight end, Greg Dulcich.

Beyond his offensive influence tied to Wilson and creating a more balanced, explosive attack while eliminating more negative plays, Payton is a well-organized motivator. His effect on the whole team will be seen, down to having the right complementary defense and more dangerous special teams.

The Broncos have whiffed on plenty of hires since winning two Super Bowls with Mike Shanahan. But now under new ownership, Payton gives them that familiar Shanahan feel again many years later.

MORE: Why Sean Payton chose to ride with Russell Wilson in Denver

Saints grade: A-

The Saints march away with a first-round draft pick, No. 30 overall in the 2023 draft, the one the Broncos got from the 49ers. The Saints didn’t have a first-rounder before, with the No. 10 overall pick now belonging to the Eagles as part of a 2022 NFL Draft pick swap.

Picking at No. 30 now gives them a shot at getting a QB in the first round, perhaps Florida’s Anthony Richardson, to help them quickly clean up their mess at QB, which currently consists of Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, and Taysom Hill. 

The only slight knock on New Orleans is that it could have gotten more, maybe. But in the end, getting something at all for Payton is huge when he wasn’t planning to coach the Saints ever again.


Credit: sportingnews.com

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