The Denver Broncos’ ownership group, which made the decision to fire Nathaniel Hackett this past week, is expected to be “ultra aggressive” in doing whatever it takes to land the head-coaching candidate it wants, league sources told ESPN.
While there is a salary cap on players, there is no salary cap on what owners can spend on a head coach, their staff and the rest of the organization — and the Penner-Walton group that purchased the Broncos last summer is not expected to save any expense or cut any corners in its effort to upgrade the franchise.
The Penner-Walton group, determined to buy the Broncos franchise last offseason, paid a record price of $4.65 billion and is expected to use that same energy and determination to land a new coach.
The most high-profile candidate is former Saints head coach Sean Payton, who will command one of the league’s richest head-coaching contracts. The Saints will also receive draft-pick compensation from the team that hires Payton.
The Saints have never publicly identified what they would want in return for Payton, but league sources know New Orleans has kept close tabs on what other franchises received for other top coaching candidates.
The Raiders received two first-round picks, two second-round picks and $8 million from the Buccaneers in exchange for Jon Gruden. The Jets received a first-round pick, a fourth-round pick and a seventh-round pick from the Patriots in exchange for a fifth-round pick, a seventh-round pick and Bill Belichick.
The Patriots also once received a first-, second-, third- and fourth-round pick, as well as $300,000 donated to charity, from the Jets in exchange for Bill Parcells.
The Saints believe Payton, who went 152-89 in 16 seasons with New Orleans and led the Saints to the only Super Bowl championship in franchise history, is worth what other great coaches have been valued at and then some.
Denver, meanwhile, has its own short-term challenges, with interim head coach Jerry Rosburg taking over and facing the Chiefs in his first game in his new role. The Chiefs are 14-0 against the Broncos since November 2015, with an average margin of victory of 11.9 points per game, and Patrick Mahomes has won all 10 of his starts against Denver.
The Broncos fired Hackett this past Monday after falling to 4-11, abruptly ending the shortest tenure of any non-interim head coach in franchise history. The Walton-Penner Group — led by Walmart heir Rob Walton, daughter Carrie Walton Penner and son-in-law Greg Penner — quickly ran out of patience with a team that had one of the league’s best defenses but an offense that averaged just 15.5 points per game.