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Broncos have permission to interview former Saints HC Sean Payton; teams on same page regarding trade compensation

The Sean Payton sweepstakes have begun.

The Denver Broncos have received permission from the New Orleans Saints to interview Sean Payton for their head-coaching vacancy, and the two sides appear to be on the same page about potential trade compensation, NFL Network Insiders Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported on Saturday, per sources.

The formal request for a Payton interview is expected to go in as early as 9 a.m. ET on Monday, as per NFL rules, Rapoport added. Pelissero reported that Jan. 17 is the first date an in-person interview would be permitted.

Payton confirmed during FOX NFL Sunday that he has been in contact with the Broncos.

"Denver's the first team; I was able to have a conversation with their owner," Payton told Good Morning Football and FOX Sports' Peter Schrager. "That's kind of the protocol. It would go team to Saints and then the interview process can't officially begin until [Jan. 17] so that's really where it's at."

While there is not currently a deal in place, Rapoport reports that the Broncos appear to be willing to meet the Saints' asking price. Because Payton is still under contract with the Saints, any team would have to agree to trade compensation with New Orleans in order to hire him, and the belief is New Orleans will ask for a first-round draft pick and more, per Rapoport.

One source described talks between the Broncos and Saints to Rapoport as an initial conversation, and the two sides are expected to continue that conversation. Rapoport noted that for the Saints to permit a team to interview Payton, they would need to know that club was prepared to meet their asking price in a trade.

Pelissero and Rapoport reported on Jan. 1 that Payton was expected to be a top target of Denver's, along with Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

With new co-owner and CEO Greg Penner taking control of the coaching search to replace Nathanial Hackett, who was fired on Dec. 26, alongside general manager George Paton, the Broncos are going all in on big targets. None are bigger than Payton, who they are expected to interview as soon as possible, per Rapoport.

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