Saints HC Takes a Shot at Sean Payton in Response to Taysom Hill Rumor

Dennis Allen doesn’t seem to appreciate Sean Payton’s approach since joining the Denver Broncos.

Coach Dennis Allen says Saints have identified challenges, but are still seeking solutions - The San Diego Union-Tribune

New Orleans Saints head coach Dennis Allen sounds like he’s had it with Sean Payton’s attempts to reconnect with former players and coaches in the Mile High City. As head coach of the Denver Broncos, Payton has signed multiple former Saints players, traded for one in tight end Adam Trautman, and has hired several of his former assistants down in New Orleans.

Combined with the rumors about Saints quarterback Taysom Hill’s availability on the trade market, Payton’s let’s-get-the-band-back-together approach might be wearing on Allen’s nerves. When asked about whether the Broncos have reached out to the Saints about Hill, Allen wouldn’t rule out the possibility while providing some additional commentary.

“No, that conversation (regarding a Taysom Hill trade) has not been broached,” Allen said via Last Word on Sports from the annual NFL owners’ meetings in Florida. “Look, I feel like Sean has tried to get everyone to go to Denver with him, so we’ll see.”

Did Allen insult Payton? No. But it was a shot across the bow, revealing that on some level, Payton has gotten on Allen’s nerves.

Although the Saints parted ways with offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, perhaps his hiring in Denver this offseason got under Allen’s skin. Carmichael joins Broncos offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, assistant head coach and special teams czar Mike Westhoff, and strength and conditioning coach Dan Dalrymple as ex-Saints coaches whom Payton brought to the Mile High City.

The addition of Carmichael, in particular, seemed to increase the scrutiny of the Hill situation. After all, Payton and Carmichael developed Hill as a former undrafted free agent into a Swiss Army Knife weapon of sorts.

Need a stop-gap quarterback who knows how the Payton sausage gets made? Hill’s got you. How about an in-a-pinch tight end or H-back and special teams contributor? No problem. Perhaps you’re looking for a Joker-type offensive weapon to move around and make plays? Hill can oblige, especially if it’s for Payton and Carmichael.

However, Hill is under contract with the Saints for another few years. In Payton’s final season as head coach in New Orleans, the Saints signed Hill to a four-year, $40 million extension. That money didn’t start kicking in until recently.

Unless you’ve got a clear vision for a player like Hill, that’s a lot of money to pay for a third-string quarterback. Or even a backup QB.

The Saints are still undergoing seismic changes as an organization in the wake of Payton’s resignation following the 2021 season. New Orleans marched ahead by hiring Allen, while Payton initially joined FOX Sports as an analyst.

In the fall of 2022, Payton felt the itch to coach coming on strong. Before long, he was linked to multiple NFL head-coaching vacancies even though the Saints still retained his coaching rights.

That meant that if a team wanted to hire Payton as head coach, they’d have to compensate the Saints via a trade. When the Broncos reached a decision on Payton, the Saints relinquished his rights at the costly sum of a first- and second-round draft pick.

Denver got a 2024 third-rounder in the bargain, too, helping to mitigate the sting of Payton’s cost. But the Saints trade also explains why the Broncos are without a 2024 second-rounder.

Will the Broncos eventually find a way to ply Hill off of New Orleans’ hands? I wouldn’t doubt it. But with so many roster holes and a massive vacancy at quarterback — which Hill would not fill — the Broncos can’t afford to go making any further costly trades with the Saints.

Now, if Saints GM Mickey Loomis wanted to deal Hill away as more of a salary dump, kind of like how the Broncos traded wideout Jerry Jeudy to the Cleveland Browns for a pair of late-round picks, that would be more within the realm of the plausible. Anything more than fifth-rounder for Hill, who also carries a $15.7M cap number for 2024, wouldn’t make sense.

More likely? The Broncos wait out the inevitable and capitalize when the Saints release Hill. That probably won’t happen until well into the summer, though, as a pre-June 1 release would cost the Saints north of $18M in a dead-money hit, while a post-June 1 cut would cost $7.2M.

Meanwhile, the NFL draft is almost here and with the No. 12 overall pick, the Broncos are expected to target a quarterback. Denver is currently sitting on eight total selections in the 2024 draft.

It’s worth mentioning that Allen received his big NFL career boost thanks to the Broncos, serving as defensive coordinator in 2011 under then-head coach John Fox. Allen parlayed that into his first head-coaching stint with the then-Oakland Raiders, which was a colossal failure.

Payton hired Allen as his defensive coordinator in New Orleans in 2015 after he was fired by the Raiders. The Saints opted to make Allen the successor to Payton, which raised a lot of eyebrows around the league. Allen has gone 16-18 as head coach of the Saints, which is slightly above par for him.

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