For months during the 2022 season Chargers fans petitioned for the team to move on from Brandon Staley and hire future Hall of Fame coach, Sean Payton. For many, this was viewed as the best possible scenario for Justin Herbert and the Chargers' future.
Despite an ugly playoff loss, Staley's job security was never in question as the Chargers never seemed to be serious about actually doing what it took to bring in Payton. One team that was serious about Payton is the Denver Broncos, who will now bring him in to right their sinking ship.
The Broncos officially agreed to a trade with the New Orleans Saints to pave the way to sign Payton to be the team's next head coach. It was not cheap for Denver to trade for Payton and it is not going to be cheap signing him to a contract extension, either.
This is horrible news for Chargers fans who were hoping that Payton would hold out and potentially join the Bolts after the 2023 season if things went poorly with Brandon Staley. While Payton was viewed as the golden goose for several months, Chargers fans should not fret about this hire.
Chargers fans should embrace the Broncos hiring Sean Payton.
Sean Payton is a good head coach, don't get me wrong, but his value has shot up exponentially after sitting out for a year and doing broadcasting. That is exactly why he did it, so desperate fans could imagine their team with him at the helm to raise his value and get him a new gig.
Pat Riley was the first coach to really perfect this in the NBA back in the 90s. Jon Gruden executed it brilliantly to get a massive contract from the Las Vegas Raiders that the team certainly doesn't regret.
But is Payton going to magically solve all of Denver's problems? Probably not. Heck, the Broncos themselves seemingly didn't even think Payton was the best guy for the job as he was not their top option.
The best part is that this hire will convince Broncos fans that Russ is still the guy when four weeks ago everyone in Denver was trying to figure out how soon they could get out of his contract. It'll be great to see the offseason narratives around him heading into the 2023 season.
It is also strange how revered Payton is by NFL fans (ourselves included). This is a guy that hasn't won a Super Bowl since 2009 and has gone 5-7 in the playoffs since then. Mike McCarthy won a Super Bowl in 2010 and is 6-8 in the playoffs since then. Resume-wise, Payton is just McCarthy with better PR.
And how come it never gets brought up that Payton bounced from the Saints the second his Hall of Fame quarterback retired? After one year of not coaching Drew Brees, he decided it was time to "retire" so he could eventually get out of New Orleans and try to get a job like the Chargers job.
Anything is an improvement from Nathaniel Hackett and Sean Payton will improve the culture of the Broncos. But in reality, this is a flashy hire that is going to cost the team draft capital (making their roster worse) without fixing any of the core problems.
That has failed expectations written all over it and Chargers fans should be embracing the disappointment that will come from all of the Denver fans that will now convince themselves that they will win the AFC West in 2023.
I am sure some of those same fans will reach out to me after reading this article but just like their Russell Wilson takes (one fan bet me $1,000 that Wilson would be the best QB in the AFC West and then didn't respond to any emails), their Payton takes will age poorly.