It’s going to take some time to get used to, especially in Louisiana, but former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton will be sporting a different visor in 2023 after becoming the new head coach of the Denver Broncos.
The trade, finalized on Jan. 31, sends Payton and a future third-round pick to Denver and a 2023 first-round pick and 2024 second-round pick to New Orleans, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport via Twitter.
All three parties involved received sufficient compensation, with Denver getting a massive upgrade at head coach, New Orleans acquiring premier draft picks and Payton receiving a fresh start after spending a year away from coaching.
There is one other party indirectly involved who could benefit greatly from this deal.
Payton’s name has already been linked to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes once before. In multiple television appearances and interviews, most recently on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd,” Payton waxed lyrical about Mahomes’ talent and how close his former team was to selecting him early in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Since being selected tenth overall by the Chiefs in 2017 and starting his first game the final week of his rookie year, Mahomes has rapidly and firmly established himself as the sport’s preeminent quarterback.
Mahomes won his second NFL MVP Award on Thursday, Feb. 9 and appeared in his third Super Bowl in five years three days later against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Neither Mahomes nor the Chiefs were involved in the Payton trade, yet it could cause a significant ripple throughout the rest of his playing career.
Payton was traded to the AFC West, the same division featuring Mahomes and Kansas City. For however long Denver decides to retain Payton, the Broncos will play Mahomes and the Chiefs at least twice a season with the possibility of at third meeting in the playoffs.
A quick glance at Mahomes’ track record against AFC West opponents will familiarize you with the Chiefs’ dominance over the last six seasons. Mahomes is 27–3 against AFC West opponents, sweeping his division twice over that span. Mahomes also has a laughably incredible 16–0 record against divisional opponents on the road, per StatMuse.
Mahomes hasn’t taken advantage of an easy division either. Reminiscent of the AFC East during Tom Brady’s 20-year run with the New England Patriots, the AFC West has consistently loaded up on talent to try and dethrone Mahomes.
Kansas City has faced prominent quarterbacks Phillip Rivers, Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert, ferocious pass rushers Von Miller, Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack, and elite offensive weapons Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler and Davante Adams. No assortment of talent has been able to stop Mahomes and the Chiefs.
Payton is an illustrious NFL coach. In his 15-year stint with the Saints, Payton won Super Bowl XLIV while also revitalizing the career of future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees. The Saints are top five in the league in wins since 2006 under Payton’s leadership. Many of those games were also won with less – talented quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater, Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian.
After the 2021 football season, Payton decided to step away from his head coaching position with New Orleans. He spent a year working as a broadcast personality and NFL analyst with Fox.
In Payton’s only meeting with Mahomes and the Chiefs in 2020, his Saints team fell to Kansas City 32–29. This was yet another road victory for Mahomes, giving him a 1–0 record against Payton.
There’s few who doubt Denver will succeed under Payton. Whether or not they’ll have success against Mahomes and Kansas City is a different question. If Kansas City were to continue dominating the AFC West like they have, it’ll do nothing but bolster the already impressive resume of the two-time NFL All-Pro quarterback.
Should Mahomes and the Chiefs continue stacking wins against the Broncos’ new Super Bowl-winning coach-quarterback tandem – Wilson won Super Bowl XLVIII with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 –, it’ll further cement Kansas City’s signal caller as one of the rarest talents to throw a football.
Whether future NFL seasons play out in the Chiefs’ quarterback’s favor or vice versa, this trade will ultimately have an effect on the career of both Payton and Mahomes.