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USATSI

The Sean Payton saga reaches a huge day Tuesday, when the Super Bowl-winning former head coach of the New Orleans Saints will be officially available for in-person interviews. The Denver Broncos, who fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett before the end of his first season, have requested and received permission from the New Orleans Saints to interview Payton, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones confirmed. The Saints still hold the contractual rights to Payton, and any team that hires him will have to create a trade package to send to New Orleans. The last NFL coaching trade took place in 2006, when the Kansas City Chiefs sent the New York Jets a fourth-round pick for Herm Edwards. 

With Payton soon to be available, he has armed himself with the information any team interested in hiring him will want to know: the price. Payton, an NFL analyst for Fox Sports this season, said on "The Herd" with Colin Cowherd that he has had conversations with Saints general manager Mickey Loomis and that the trade compensation required to get him will be "a mid-to-late first-round pick." 

The Broncos have that type of pick, as they acquired the San Francisco 49ers' 2023 first round pick through a trade with the Miami Dolphins that sent linebacker Bradley Chubb to South Beach. The Dolphins acquired that pick as part of the 49ers' leap from the 12th overall pick to the third overall pick in the 2021 draft to select quarterback Trey Lance. Payton previously confirmed the Broncos rumors on Jan. 8, saying he's already spoken to Broncos ownership. 

"Denver's the first team, and I was able to have a conversation with their owner -- and that's kind of the protocol," Payton said on Fox. "So it'll go team to Saints, and then the interview process can't officially begin until the 17th of this month. . . . So that's really where it's at."

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Denver understands and agrees with the New Orleans' asking price of "a first-round pick and more." ESPN reports that the Broncos and Saints do not have to agree to trade compensation at this juncture. Those talks would happen later if the conversations between Denver and Payton go well. 

According to The Advocate, Payton is seeking a contract that pays him $20 million to $25 million per year over a four-year period. Coaching salaries are not public, but it's believed that salary would make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league, and the Broncos' new ownership group could certainly afford that type of salary. 

Payton stepped down from his role as head coach of the Saints last January, but many believe he is ready to return to the sidelines in 2023. The Super Bowl XLIV champion holds a 152-89 regular season record, and a 9-8 postseason record in 15 seasons coached. 

According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson, Payton has a high affinity for the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys jobs, with the Arizona Cardinals being in consideration as well should that job open up. Anderson reported last month that Payton will probably listen if the Broncos call, but historically, he's preferred a strong link to the general manager.