The Denver Broncos will wrap up their Week 18 season finale on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. While their season officially ends after Sunday, the Broncos search for their next head coach will continue.

Denver Broncos granted permission from New Orleans Saints to interview Sean Payton

The Denver Broncos head coaching search will ramp up significantly beginning next week after the team’s 2022 season ends on Sunday. After firing Nathaniel Hackett just 15 games into his first season, the Broncos will look to hire another head coach for the second consecutive offseason.

The next candidate for the job needs to be the right coach for the job, not just the coach with the biggest name. Broncos CEO Greg Penner plans to head an extensive search for the next person to lead the team going forward. Former New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton is one name that many NFL executives are keeping an eye on for this upcoming hiring cycle.

Payton announced his retirement from coaching last January after spending 15 seasons with the Saints. According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Broncos requested and received permission from the Saints to interview Payton for their vacant head coaching job. However, the NFL has ruled that the Broncos cannot interview Payton in person until at least January 17.

The former Saints coach currently works for Fox Sports as an NFL Correspondent. Teams interested in hiring Payton as their head coach have to request permission from the Saints due to him being under contract with them through 2024 despite retiring. Any team interested in hiring Payton would more than likely have to trade draft capital as a means of compensation for the services of the former head coach, with most reports suggesting the asking price from New Orleans would be a first-round pick.

The Broncos currently hold onto a late first-round pick acquired from the Miami Dolphins, which was previously the San Francisco 49ers pick that was traded to move up to acquire Trey Lance. Denver’s first-round pick could range anywhere between 24-31 contingent upon where the 49ers finish their season.

Payton is one of a multitude of candidates the Broncos will seek permission to interview for their head coaching vacancy. However, it is worth noting that former Denver head coach Vic Fangio is rumored to be Payton’s preference as his defensive coordinator wherever he decides to go, which muddies the waters surrounding the Broncos being a preferred destination for him.

Because he is not a coaching free agent and has to be traded, Payton ultimately has the final say on where he goes to be the next head coach which makes things interesting with Black Monday approaching and several more vacancies expected to open around the league.