DENVER — Broncos general manager George Paton promised to get the coaching hire "right."
Part of achieving that goal requires casting a wide net. The Broncos began the process Monday, requesting permission to interview Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, according to sources.
It represents the first of several requests as the Broncos are seeking their fifth coach in nine years, but the first chosen by Paton.
Other candidates that could draw interest from the Broncos include former Eagles boss Doug Pederson, Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, Bills defensive boss Leslie Frazier — who will interview with the Bears — and former Dolphins coach Brian Flores, who was fired Monday.
Free agents and coaches on a postseason bye are eligible to interview this week, like Hackett. Quinn and Mayo would not be permitted until next week, per NFL rules.
Paton identified leadership as the top trait he is seeking, saying previous head coaching experience is not a prerequisite. Quinn brings a strong résumé and a connection to Paton — the pair worked together in Miami in 2005 and 2006, and Quinn was said to want Paton to join him with the Falcons years ago.
Quinn, 51, guided the Falcons to a Super Bowl, squandering a 28-3 lead to the Patriots. He posted a 43-42 record in Atlanta, producing two playoff berths and an NFC Championship.
The inability to protect leads and an 0-5 freefall to start the 2020 season led to his dismissal. Quinn landed the Falcons job after serving as the defensive coordinator of the Seahawks, where he won a Super Bowl.
He is known for his relentless energy and his ability connect and care for players. He resurrected Dallas' defense this season as rookie linebacker Micah Parsons and cornerback Trevon Diggs, who led the NFL with 11 interceptions, morphed into stars.
Who Quinn suggests as his offensive coordinator and how he outlines his offensive philosophy will be critical in his interview. He could pluck from the Niners or 49ers staffs given the previous attacks he ran in Atlanta.
Mayo, 35, has coached only three seasons, but is considered a rising star in the industry.
It would be quite the jump from position coach to head coach for Mayo. However, he is respected for his leadership as a coach and a player — he played eight years in New England before joining Bill Belichick's staff.
Former players have made the transition to the head coaching spot in recent seasons, including Tennessee's Mike Vrabel, a coach of the year candidate, and Detroit's Dan Campbell.
One question with Mayo would be his ability to put together a strong staff, especially on the offensive side of the ball, given his little experience. But he has clearly become a strong candidate in this cycle.
More Broncos interview requests will continue this week.