One thing is certain with the Denver Broncos and that is that they will move on from Russell Wilson this offseason. The team replaced Wilson with Jarrett Stidham following the Las Vegas Raiders game after Wilson declined to waive an injury clause in his contract. It is all but certain that Denver will either release or trade Wilson in the coming months.
Broncos, Sean Payton must find an answer at quarterback
Stidham likely has a future with the team, although it is hard to see him being the long-term answer for the Broncos. In his two starts, the Auburn alum had a QBR of 30.8 and was sacked a total of seven times. He does have a year left on his contract, so it’s not out of the question to think Denver makes him the starter next year, while a quarterback they draft in the 2024 NFL Draft develops.
When it comes to how Denver will attack the quarterback position, Sean Payton will likely prefer the team bringing in a veteran quarterback, having had a veteran quarterback under center each year he was in New Orleans. He also runs a complicated system that would need scaled down for a rookie to succeed. Unfortunately, the team won’t have much money to spend on a veteran, as the team is already 20+ million over the salary cap, and has 14 unrestricted free agents.
This lack of cap space could force Denver to go the NFL Draft route to address its void at quarterback. The Broncos currently have the 12th pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and by the time they pick, the top three quarterbacks — Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye — will surely be off the board. The team also doesn’t have a second-round pick this year, so trading up to get one of these players will mean giving up multiple first-round picks in the future.
Despite these challenges, Denver does have some options to address this glaring need behind center. These options include signing a quarterback to a mid-level deal, taking a quarterback in the first round, or using a day-two pick to find their quarterback of the future.
Five quarterbacks the Denver Broncos should look at this offseason
1. Jake Browning (Bengals)
The veteran quarterback who might make the most sense for Denver is Jake Browning. In 2023, Browning had a career year filling in for an injured Joe Burrow, completing 70 percent of his passes for 1,936 yards and 12 touchdowns. While he threw seven interceptions, three of them did come in one game. The biggest obstacle when it comes to acquiring Browing is that he is an exclusive rights free agent, so Denver may need to send a third or fourth-round pick to Cincinnati for him.
2. J.J. McCarthy (Michigan)
A quarterback who is widely predicted to go to Denver with the 12th overall pick is Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. While I am not as sold as others are on McCarthy, and personally wouldn’t take him in the first round, it is hard to argue with the fact that he is a great leader and his 40-3 record as Michigan’s starting quarterback. He also put up some pretty impressive stats this year, completing 72 percent of his passes and accounting for 25 touchdowns.
3. Jameis Winston (Saints)
If Sean Payton goes with a quarterback he is familiar with, Jameis Winston would make sense. Winston played under Payton for two seasons, and in 2021, he threw for 14 touchdowns and had an overall quarterback rating of 102.8. He is also scheduled to be a free agent and is unlikely to return to New Orleans, especially after his controversial late-game decision against the Falcons.
4. Bo Nix (Oregon)
Denver could look at trading down to the later portion of Day 1 or early in the second round to take a quarterback like Bo Nix. Nix, who is my fourth-rated quarterback, and is someone I have rated over J.J. McCarthy, would make a lot of sense for Denver. One reason for this is it would allow the Broncos to pick up extra draft capital. The second reason: Nix is an accurate quarterback, completing 77 percent of his passes in 2023. He does a good job of throwing on time, which is a necessity in Payton’s offense.
5. Spencer Rattler (South Carolina)
If Denver decides to wait until the third or fourth round to add a quarterback, South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler could be an ideal fit. Rattler has one of the stronger arms in the 2024 NFL Draft, and has the raw tools to develop into a starter in a couple of years. If the team decides to go with the Gamecock star, look for them to start a veteran in front of him, as Rattler is not ready to start currently and must improve his decision-making and overall footwork.
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