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Broncos notes: Sean Payton to spend week interviewing for coaching staff slots

Sean Desai, Zach Strief interviews among the many Payton will meet via Zoom this week. Meanwhile, Payton and Paton "hit it off."

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Sean Desai may be considered a young defensive coordinator candidate but he's been around long enough to where he recruited a kicker named Brandon McManus to Temple University in 2008.

It was Desai who offered McManus a scholarship and served as the freshman kicker's special teams coordinator in 2009.

Both went on their successful ways. McManus just finished his 9th season as the Broncos' placekicker where he is No. 2 all-time to Jason Elam in just about every significant category (except 50-yard field goals, where McManus is No. 1). Desai was groomed by Vic Fangio as a Chicago Bears' defensive assistant, then became the Bears' defensive coordinator in 2021.

A head coaching change in Chicago last year pushed Desai to Seattle where he served as a top assistant to Pete Carroll, but there's now a chance for a Desai-McManus reunion in Denver.

Thanks in part to a Fangio recommendation, Desai will interview with new Broncos' head coach Sean Payton via Zoom on Tuesday, a source told 9NEWS. With another candidate, Brian Flores, withdrawing to become defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings, Desai would seem to be in good shape.

Desai is one of several assistant coach candidates Payton will interview via Zoom this week. Payton will also interview one of his longtime offensive line starters, Zach Strief, for the Broncos' offensive line position this week, a source confirmed.

As assistant coaches come in, the same number will leave. Sources tell 9NEWS that inside linebackers coach Peter Hansen, tight ends coach Jake Moreland and assistant offensive line coach Ben Steele have been informed they will not be retained. Hansen -- a former Lute Olson reserve on Arizona's basketball team and the NFL's only 6-foot-8 linebackers coach -- figures to be a candidate to join defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero in Carolina.

Evero told Payton late last week he preferred to move on. Evero, who received guidance from senior defensive consultant Dom Capers this year, picked Carolina instead of Minnesota in part because of Capers' influence and also because he had more open defensive positions available for his former Broncos' assistants.

Hansen, Moreland and Steele follow earlier staff departures that include running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley, strength and conditioning coach Loren Landow and the in-season dismissals of special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes and head offensive line coach Butch Barry.

“I know a lot of you have questions about coaches, and I’ll probably not answer any of those questions and just tell you that we’re working hard to put the right staff together,'' Payton said.

>>Video below: Klis & Tell: Broncos introduce head coach Sean Payton

Payton and Paton

Not surprisingly to anyone who has come across easy-going Broncos general manager George Paton in the last two years, Sean Payton kinda likes him.

“I feel like I’ve got good instincts, and I feel like there’s a demeanor with him that reminds me of Mickey (Loomis, the Saints general manager) in a good way,'' Payton said of Paton. "Very steady. ... There’s this myth that I’m this tyrant that has to come into the building and control everything. I’m like, ‘Where are you guys getting all this stuff from?’ I might be a tyrant once in a while, though, but not a lot. Anyway, I really enjoy his company and it’s worked extremely well so far.”

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos new head coach Sean Payton, third from left, is introduced during a news conference at the team's headquarters on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in Centennial, Colo. From left are, George Paton, general manager, owners Carrie Walton Penner, Condolezza Rice, general manager Greg Penner and team president Damani Leech. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


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