The Denver Broncos are swinging big in their search for a new head coach.
The Broncos requested and received permission to interview former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Schefter included that the NFL ruled no team can conduct an in-person interview with Payton until Jan. 17.
Payton is perhaps the top candidate on the market. Though he's not completely a free agent.
Any team wanting to hire Payton would have to work out compensation with the Saints. Payton stepped away from the Saints after last season, but it was generally assumed that Payton would come back to coaching in a year or two. The Saints still hold his contractual rights.
The Broncos are already down a lot of draft picks due to the Russell Wilson trade. However, landing a coach like Payton might be worth them giving up some more picks.
Payton resurrected the Saints franchise in his time there. He went 152-89 in his 15 seasons in New Orleans, and the Saints won the only Super Bowl in team history at the end of the 2009 season.
The Broncos are nearing the end of a miserable season. Nathaniel Hackett was fired as coach before his first season was over. Denver hasn't been to the playoffs since the end of the 2015 season. Wilson's struggles, coupled with his huge new contract extension, have left many wondering if the Broncos would be stuck in mediocrity for a few years.
Maybe Payton could help the Broncos dig out of that hole. Denver is hopeful it will find out.