The Saints are the true winners of the Sean Payton trade

Saints, Sean Payton
Saints, Sean Payton / Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Sean Payton saga is finally over. The New Orleans Saints have reportedly traded the rights to Payton and a 2024 third-round pick to the Denver Broncos for a 2023 first-round pick and a 2024 second-round pick.

After months of speculation, Payton has finally found a new home. It seemed unlikely in recent days that Payton would be hired by an NFL team this offseason, but the Broncos came calling at the last minute and made an offer.

For the Saints, acquiring two top-64 picks for someone who isn't even coaching has to be considered quite the coup for Mickey Loomis and company. It may not be the reported two first-round picks package that the Saints were seeking, but it's still a haul.

That's especially true given that the Saints didn't possess a first-round pick in this year's draft. Now, they're set to pick at No. 29 overall as well as No. 40, on top of the second-round pick they will now have in 2024.

The Payton trade provides the Saints with some much-needed draft capital and offers a bit of optimism ahead of what is expected to be a rebuild for the organization.

As for the Broncos, there's undoubtedly going to be some pushback seeing as though Payton reportedly wasn't their first, second, or even third choice.

Was Sean Payton the Broncos' first choice at head coach?

The Broncos were reportedly targeting Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh this offseason, but once it became clear that Harbaugh wanted no part of the job and decided to return to his alma mater, Denver had to pivot.

They had their eyes set on Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, but much like Harbaugh, he decided to stay put. Their most recent pursuit was of San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.

Ryans quickly became the preferred target of the Broncos, and the team even attempted to persuade him as recently as the day they hired Payton. Unfortunately for Denver, Ryans zeroed in on the Houston Texans job.

The Broncos essentially traded multiple high draft picks for either their third or fourth head coach option. Meanwhile, the Saints received a significant haul for someone who wasn't even coaching, and whose market wasn't as robust as many expected.

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This is a clear win for the Saints. The Sean Payton saga is finally over, and the Saints emerged as winners of the deal.