Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Denver Broncos Community!

Broncos Assistant Hot Board: Who will Sean Payton include in his offensive staff?

Henry Chisholm Avatar
February 2, 2023

For six weeks, we wondered who the Broncos’ next head coach will be.

The answer: Sean Payton.

Now it’s time to wonder who Payton will hire to his staff.

The Broncos have a chance to put together a superstar staff in Denver. Payton has the connections to bring in the best of the best, and the Broncos’ ownership group has the pocketbook to foot the bill.

As of now, before Payton has even signed his contract officially, it’s tough to say who exactly will pique his interest, but we can start guessing.

And today, we’ll start with 17 coaches I think Payton will consider for his inaugural staff in Denver.

This list of coaches is comprised of current Broncos assistants, former Payton assistants, coaches who have crossed paths with Payton at various other points in his career, and coaches who are just good coaches and should be considered for that reason.

As we learn more about who is being interviewed or what qualifications Payton is looking for, we’ll update this list.

For the most part, the names listed below are in order of who I think is most likely to end up with the job to who is least likely.

Click here to see the list of candidates for the defensive and special teams staff.

Let’s dig in…

Offensive Coordinator

Joe Lombardi, 51 — Most recently, Lombardi was the offensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers, but was fired earlier this month after his second season in the role. Lombardi, the grandson of legendary coach Vince Lombardi, was Payton’s quarterbacks coach for a decade in New Orleans, and odds are good that he’ll find a role somewhere in Denver this offseason. He’d be a great teacher for quarterback Russell Wilson, as Wilson learns the Payton offense this offseason.

Pete Carmichael Jr., 51 — Carmichael Joined Sean Payton’s inaugural staff in New Orleans as a quarterbacks coach but was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2009. He’s held that role ever since. When Payton left town, Carmichael took over play-calling duties. All was not well in New Orleans this season, but Carmichael has retained his position. Given his shaky standing, the Saints may be willing to let Carmichael interview with the Broncos this offseason. The more likely outcome is New Orleans rejecting that request.

Greg Roman, 50 — Roman resigned from the Ravens this offseason after spending four years with the weirdest job in the NFL: building an offense for Lamar Jackson. Roman helped Jackson to an MVP campaign but the Ravens fell short of expectations more often than not, and they opted to try something new in 2023. Roman has a great track record, especially with mobile quarterbacks, as he got the best out of Tyrod Taylor and Colin Kaepernick. Russell Wilson may not fit that mold exactly at this point in his career, but Roman is the top coordinator on the market and could be the big swing the Broncos are looking for. He hasn’t worked with Sean Payton in the past, but he comes from a West Coast background so the language barrier shouldn’t be large.

David Shaw, 50 — Somehow the youngest candidate on my OC list, Shaw has a dozen years of experience as Stanford’s head coach under his belt. He was one of the most respected and highest-paid coaches in college football but resigned this offseason after a third disappointing season in four years. Shaw interviewed for the head job in Denver and knows ownership well, given their ties to Stanford. Shaw also shared an office with Payton during the one year they both spent in Philadelphia in 1997, when Payton was quarterbacks coach and Shaw was a quality control coach. Payton has publically campaigned for NFL teams to poach Shaw from Stanford in the past. Shaw, like Payton, runs a West Coast offense, so the pair could work well together and ownership will likely raise Shaw’s name while discussing the Broncos’ offensive coordinator position. Whether he’d accept—and whether Payton would be interested in him—is up in the air. Shaw has been noted for his work with quarterbacks in particular—dating back to Rich Gannon’s 2001 Raiders campaign when Shaw was his quarterbacks coach—but he may not accept a job as a position coach, especially after making eight figures per year at Stanford. An assistant head coach title could sweeten the deal.

Todd Haley, 55 — The former Chiefs head coach worked with Payton in Dallas when Payton was the Cowboys’ quarterbacks coach and Haley was their wide receivers coach. Haley has been out of the NFL for four seasons (following a brief stint as the Browns’ offensive coordinator) and took over as the head coach and general manager of the USFL’s Memphis Showboats in November. Haley would be a great hire as a wide receivers coach and could be given a passing game coordinator or assistant head coach title as well. But that may not be enough to bring him to Denver. An offer to be the Broncos’ offensive coordinator would likely get the job done.

Doug Marrone, 58 — Currently the Saints’ offensive line coach, Marrone has six years of NFL head coaching experience and three years of NFL offensive coordinator experience under his belt. He was Sean Payton’s first offensive coordinator and offensive line coach in New Orleans, where he spent three seasons before leaving to become the head coach at Syracuse. Marrone would be a great hire as an offensive line coach, but the Saints would likely block him from leaving. The Saints could not block him from becoming offensive coordinator, however.

Quarterbacks Coach

Joe Lombardi, 51 — See his notes in the coordinator section.

Marc Trestman, 67 — Trestman is a longtime NFL quarterbacks coach, dating back to the 1980s. He made a name for himself as Bernie Kosar’s quarterbacks coach during the University of Miami’s 1983 national championship season and later helped Kosar to a Pro Bowl campaign as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Cleveland Browns. He later worked with Rich Gannon and Jake Plummer, among others. Trestman later worked with Rich Gannon and Jake Plummer among others. Trestman is well-regarded in coaching searches and has called Sean Payton a “good friend.” Trestman was a consultant for the Saints in Payton’s second season as head coach. Trestman has been out of the NFL since he was the Ravens’ offensive coordinator in 2016 and out of football for two seasons. He may be happily retired, but he may also be interested in making a return. He has crossed paths with David Shaw in the past, which could come into play in the unlikely event Shaw becomes Denver’s offensive coordinator.

David Shaw, 50 — See his notes in the coordinator section.

Running Backs Coach

Joel Thomas, 48 — For the past eight seasons, Thomas has served as the Saints’ running backs coach. The Saints could block Thomas from taking the Broncos’ running backs position.

Dan Roushar, 62 — Roushar spent the past 10 seasons as running backs coach, tight ends coach, offensive line coach and run game coordinator at various times for the New Orleans Saints, but he was let go last month. Roushar could fill any of those roles in Denver and should be a favorite to land with the Broncos.

Scottie Montgomery, 44 — Montgomery was the Colts’ running backs coach for the past two seasons, where he helped Jonathan Taylor to a first-team All-Pro season in 2021 as he rushed for 1811 yards and 18 touchdowns, which both led the NFL. It was Montgomery’s second NFL position coach job, after serving as the Steelers’ wide receivers coach from 2010-12. He was East Carolina’s head coach from 2016-18. He has no clear ties to Sean Payton, but he was a backup running back for the Broncos for three years in the early 2000s.

Bret Ingalls, 62 — From 2009-12, Ingalls was the running backs coach in New Orleans. He then spent four seasons as the Saints’ offensive line coach. Since then, Ingalls has been an assistant in the college ranks, including spending last year with Michigan.

Tight Ends Coach

Dan Roushar, 62 — See his notes in the running backs section.

Justin Outten, 39 — Prior to becoming the Broncos’ offensive coordinator last season, Outten spent three years as a tight ends coach with the Packers, where he worked with Jimmy Graham, Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis, among others. Outten was seen as an up-and-comer, but it’s tough to say where he stands in coaching circles after last season. In his two games calling plays at the end of the season, the Broncos averaged more than 27 points, which was easily the most successful stretch of the season. Still, it seems unlikely he’ll immediately earn another coordinator job. Keeping him around in a reduced role could make sense for the Broncos.

Kevin Mawae, 52 — The seven-time first-team All-Pro center earned his first position coach job last season when the Colts promoted him from assistant offensive line coach to tight ends coach. Mawae’s future is up in the air, though, as the Colts search for a new head coach. He’s a total wild card in the Broncos’ search for a tight ends coach with no real ties to the search, but he’s a fun candidate so I included his name.

Wide Receivers Coach

Curtis Johnson, 61 — Johnson made his name as the University of Miami’s wide receivers coach from 1996-2005. He helped win the 2001 national champ and worked with Andre Johnson, Santana Moss and Reggie Wayne, among others. Johnson left to take the same role with the Saints on Payton’s initial staff but crossed town in 2012 to take over as Tulane’s head coach. He returned to the Saints in 2017 as a senior offensive assistant and re-added the receivers coach title in 2021. Unless Johnson is sold on retirement, he’s likely to fit into Payton’s staff somehow, though he may not earn a position coach title.

Reggie Wayne, 44 — If Curtis Johnson comes to Denver but doesn’t take the receivers coach job, don’t be surprised if Reggie Wayne is the receivers coach. Wayne played for Johnson for four years in college, and they’ve stayed in touch. In 2017, Wayne said Johnson taught him “everything I know” and that “we probably talk too much.” Wayne took over as the Colts’ receivers coach last season, his first coaching job, and he may be willing to jump ship considering the Colts are yet to hire a head coach and there’s no guarantee he’ll be retained. Leaving the city he spent 14 of his 15 NFL seasons may be difficult though. Still, a combination of Wayne as wide receivers coach and Johnson as a senior assistant focused on receivers could be an ideal situation. And although Wayne and Payton have never crossed paths in a professional capacity, the New Orleans native probably met Payton at some point during Payton’s tenure with the Saints.

Zach Azzanni, 46 — Azzanni has withstood two coaching changes over the past five seasons, and betting against him to hold his job through another might be a bad idea. However, Payton has connections across the league and he may already have a man in mind for the job.

Todd Haley, 55 — See his notes in the coordinator section.

Offensive Line Coach

Mike Munchak, 62 — Regarded as one of the best offensive line coaches in the business, Munchak still lives in Denver despite not being retained after last season, when Nathaniel Hackett took over for Vic Fangio. Munchak has stated publically that he wants to continue coaching and that he wants to stay somewhere out west near his family, which lives in Denver. A return to the Broncos would be a match made in heaven.

Dan Roushar, 62 — See his notes in the running backs section.

Doug Marrone, 58 — See his notes in the coordinator section.

Kevin Mawae, 52 — See his notes in the tight ends coach section.

Click here to see the list of candidates for the defensive and special teams staff.


Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?