ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Broncos have chosen a proven winner as their next head coach.
Denver has officially named Super Bowl XLIV champion Sean Payton as the 20th head coach in franchise history, Owner & CEO Greg Penner announced Friday.
In exchange for Payton being released from his contract with the Saints, Denver and New Orleans have agreed to exchange draft compensation. The veteran coach remained under contract with New Orleans when he retired ahead of the 2022 season.
"Sean Payton is an outstanding leader and Super Bowl champion with a brilliant offensive mind," Penner said in a statement. "He shares our commitment to winning championships for Broncos Country and we're excited to welcome him as our new head coach.
"Sean knows how to build a championship culture with high expectations. He coaches with intensity and attention-to-detail while setting and maintaining high standards. Sean pours his heart and soul into winning with preparation, creativity and a genuine love of the game.
"It is rare in any sport to hire a head coach with Sean's credentials and we appreciate the first-class manner in which the Saints approached this process. We also appreciated the opportunity to meet and learn from the other highly qualified, outstanding coaches we interviewed.
"Our goal was to identify a strong leader for the Denver Broncos who is focused on winning, and we found him in Coach Payton."
Beginning in 2006, Payton led New Orleans to a division-leading seven NFC South championships and nine playoff appearances over his tenure. Payton also guided the Saints to nine seasons with at least 10 wins and a Super Bowl XLIV title to conclude the 2009 season.
The 2006 Associated Press Coach of the Year, Payton is one of just nine active coaches to have led a team to a Super Bowl championship.
Before Payton joined the Saints, the organization had earned just one postseason win in its history. With Payton at the helm, New Orleans earned nine playoff wins and posted a 152-89 (.631) regular-season record.
Payton ranks sixth among active coaches in all-time wins and ranks tied for 22nd all-time in that category. His career winning percentage ranks 24th in the regular season in NFL history and sixth among active coaches.
Before his one-year retirement in 2022, Payton was the second-longest tenured active coach in the NFL.
An offensive specialist, Payton's offenses led the league in net yards per game in six of his 15 seasons and was in the top 10 in total offense each year until his final season. The Saints also led the league in scoring in six seasons. New Orleans posted at least 45 points in a game on 22 occasions during Payton's tenure. By comparison, the Broncos scored 45 points in a game eight times during that span.
Payton had 68 total Pro Bowl selections during his tenure, including a franchise-record 11 selections in 2019. Payton and his staff also coached the Pro Bowl twice.
The Saints finished below .500 just four times in Payton's 15 years, and he headed two different stretches with four consecutive seasons with at least 11 wins.
Before his time in New Orleans, Payton spent three years with the Cowboys, four years with the Giants and a pair of seasons with the Eagles. He also has nine years of collegiate coaching experience.
In Denver, Payton will look to help the Broncos rebound from a seven-year playoff drought that began in 2016. During Payton's first year in New Orleans, the Saints rebounded from a 3-13 record in 2005 to post a 10-6 record, earn a division title and advance to the NFC Championship Game.
Payton will be the Broncos' third head coach in the last three seasons and the fourth since Gary Kubiak retired following the 2016 season. After picking three consecutive first-time head coaches to lead the franchise, Denver turned to a coach with head-coaching experience.
All three of the Broncos' world championships came under the guidance of a head coach with prior experience.