The Denver Broncos are going for quite the rebound.
The last-place Broncos have been granted permission by the New Orleans Saints to interview Sean Payton for their vacant head coaching position, according to ESPN.
Denver fired Nathaniel Hackett last month after just 15 games, but he clearly had been overmatched since Week 1.
Starting with his first game, Hackett was heavily scrutinized. He burned clock to attempt a 64-yard field goal instead of going for a 4th and 5 in Seattle Week 1, which was just a preview for the rest of the season.
Payton announced after the 2021 season he would step down from coaching. However, since he is still under contract with the Saints, teams still must request permission to interview him. Whichever team does potentially hire Payton would also have to give the Saints some sort of compensation, likely in draft capital.
The 58-year-old has two years remaining on his Saints deal.
Payton has previously said he would be happy to return to coaching next season “if the right situation presented itself.”
Payton resigned as the Saints head coach in January, stating that coaching was “not where my heart is right now.” But he never ruled out a return.
“I still have a vision for doing things in football,” Payton said at the time. “And I’ll be honest with you, that might be coaching again at some point.”
Payton began his career as a head coach with the Saints in 2006 after serving as an assistant coach with several other teams in the league. With the addition of free agent Drew Brees, Payton led New Orleans to its first playoff appearance in six years with a 10-6 record and a divisional title his inaugural season.
Four years later, he guided New Orleans to its first Super Bowl victory with a win over the Indianapolis Colts.
In his 15 seasons as a head coach, Payton boasts a 152-89 record in the regular season and a 9-8 record in the postseason.
The Saints won seven NFC South titles under Payton.
No interview can occur before Jan. 17, ESPN notes.