Broncos appoint Sean Payton as head coach as Texans hire DeMeco Ryans

<span>Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA</span>
Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

The Denver Broncos and Houston Texans settled on the identity of their new head coaches on Tuesday.

ESPN reports that the Broncos have agreed compensation with Sean Payton’s former team, the New Orleans Saints, with whom he won the Super Bowl in the 2009 season. The Broncos will reportedly receive Payton and the Saints’ 2024 third-round draft pick in the deal. New Orleans will get Denver’s 2023 first-round pick (No 30) and the Broncos’ 2024 second-round pick.

Meanwhile, the Houston Texans confirmed they have agreed a deal with DeMeco Ryans to be their new head coach. Ryans has won widespread praise as defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers.

The 38-year-old played for the Texans for six seasons after they selected him in the second round of the 2006 draft. As a linebacker with the team he won defensive rookie of the year and was selected to two Pro Bowls.As a coach he has distinguished himself as a defensive mind: under his leadership the 49ers were best in the NFL in points and yards allowed this past season.

San Francisco were particularly good against the run with Ryans as defensive coordinator, ranking second in the league by holding teams to 77.7 yards. That’s a stark contrast to Houston’s run defense, which ranked last in the NFL by allowing 170.2 yards this season. The Texans have not had a winning season since 2019, but they have the No 2 overall pick in this year’s draft and own Cleveland’s first-round picks in 2023 and 2024 after they traded Deshaun Watson to the Browns last year.

“For so many reasons, DeMeco is everything we are looking for in a leader and coach for our organization,” Texans owner Cal McNair said in a statement. “He has a proven track record for developing high-quality players and constantly innovated his defensive scheme over the last six seasons in San Francisco.

“We started this process with the goal of finding someone our fans and city can be proud of and we’ve done just that. While we received a lot of incredible feedback and support for DeMeco from different people, it was our discussions with him and his vision for our football team that made him the right coach to lead us as we continue to evolve as an organization.”

Ryans’ appointment means the Texans are the first NFL team in history to hire three Black head coaches in succession.

Payton will also inherit a struggling team, although the same could be said for the Saints when he became their head coach in 2006. Alongside future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees, Payton led the Saints to the playoffs nine times and the NFC South title on seven occasions.

Payton remained under contract with New Orleans after stepping down from the Saints last season and working in broadcasting this season.

The Broncos, who went 5-12 this season and extended their playoff drought to seven years, fired rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett in December after he went 4-11. Interim coach Jerry Rosburg went 1-1.

Payton’s top task will be to get quarterback Russell Wilson back to his winning ways after the 11-year pro had his worst statistical season following his blockbuster trade from Seattle for four premium draft picks and three players.

The Broncos dealt their first- and second-round picks to the Seahawks for Wilson. They got back into the first round by trading pass rusher Bradley Chubb to the Miami Dolphins, who sent the Broncos a first-rounder originally owned by the San Francisco 49ers. That selection now belongs to the Saints.