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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. With the Denver Broncos’ sixth post-season miss now officially in the books, the issue that has launched several (thousand) hot habanero-level recordings among anyone with a fleeting interest in the team still hangs over the franchise.
That question starts with “who” and ends with “quarterback”.
As general manager George Paton approaches the end of his first calendar year on the job, it is publicly unclear how he will officially lean towards when it comes to the Broncos’ quarterback in the present and future. But the two most important things he has said about the problem this season came about three months apart.
On Aug. 12, just outside the building he used to work in as the Minnesota Vikings’ assistant general manager, Paton described the hunt for a quarterback as follows:
“I’ve said before that the quarterback position is the most important position in sports.”
And on Nov. 2, just after he sent the franchise’s all-time sacks leader, Von Miller, to the Los Angeles Rams for two draft picks, Paton said of the Broncos’ upcoming offseason plan:
“We have the resources to do what we want. Going forward, we’ll have a lot of attic space, and we want cash. We have 11 drafts, so we have a lot of flexibility, and I’m always talking about flexibility, but it does. we.”
Paton will definitely be asked about it again in the coming days as he reveals the fate of the team’s coaching staff and discusses further work. But combine “most importantly” with “what we want” and it opens up a lot of opportunities in the hunt for the 11th different starting quarterback since the 2016 season.
Then get the quarterback bingo cards ready, because it’s a good time to just outline his main options.
Nuts and bolts: Take any survey among the ticket buyers and a magnificent deal is easily the most popular choice. The two names at the top of any wish list have been and will be Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
Several first-round picks from Denver would almost certainly be needed just to get it all started. The Broncos are likely to draft somewhere between No. 10 and 14 in the first round of 2022, and that is the most important in any deal.
Future first-round picks would have diminished value because Rodgers, if he does not retire – he did not rule that out earlier this month – will make his new team better, as in much better. The Broncos may even have to step up in the draft board in 2022, simply making an initial offer that is good enough to get the conversation going.
The problem is the same for Wilson, although Wilson also has a no-trade clause in his contract and can waive any trade. A team’s future prospects, draft capital and ability to improve the team list are going to mean something to him. Wilson has two more years left on his Seattle deal with a salary cap of $ 37 million for 2022 and $ 40 million for 2023.
Biggest obstacle: Prime draft capital. The Rams sent their starting quarterback – Jared Goff – in addition to two first-round picks as well as a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions to acquire Matthew Stafford.
Rodgers and Wilson are in an even higher category than Stafford. Paton has always spoken publicly about getting more choices, not fewer, so it is unknown how he would approach a deal that could cost the team two or three choices in the first round as a minimum.
Prepare and develop
Nuts and bolts: Since Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos in 2012, the team has selected six quarterbacks in the draft, three of them among the top 60 picks – Brock Osweiler (57th overall), Paxton Lynch (26th overall) and Drew Lock (42nd overall) .
If any of them had been the long-term answer, Paton – and John Elway before him – would not have had to answer the quarterback question.
This opportunity would require patience, and many of the believing Broncos are fresh out of that virtue.
Biggest obstacle: Paton has already taken the round to see many of the 2022 draft’s best quarterback prospects in person and will do so again in the coming weeks. But the early returns from many staff leaders in the league are that this quarterback class is not as good as the 2021 class, and these players have almost all fought as rookies – except for the Mac Jones of the Patriots much of the time and at least for sent, Davis Mills of the Texans.
The chances of the Broncos getting immediate quarterback help in this draft, as in a player pushing a playoff push like a rookie, are not great. A draft pick, especially one used in the first two rounds, would likely have to be paired with a free-agent signing and a long-range approach.
Which brings us to …
Make yourself – again – in free action
Nuts and bolts: Teddy Bridgewater, who signed with the Broncos last season, solved one of the Broncos’ biggest problems from 2020, at least before a concussion against the Cincinnati Bengals that has kept him out of the last two games. He pretty much eliminated the Broncos’ constant turnover problems last season, when they were last in the league in giveaways.
But the Broncos’ offensive mess, especially down the stretch as the defense was just ahead of the league with the fewest allowed points until Sunday’s loss in Los Angeles, does not rule out Bridgewater or Drew Lock.
That said, Bridgewater is still one of the better options on a list of potential free agents at quarterback. This is why if Rodgers and / or Wilson actually reach the trading market, the price of acquiring the entity’s services may even push up a little more from the already massive level that could be expected. Jameis Winston and Mitchell Trubisky are really the only notable free agents on the post who are under 29 years old.
The Broncos could dive into the crowd of over 30 and combine this player with a first-class draft pick. But it requires choosing the right veteran who would actually help a young quarterback develop along the way.
Maybe it’s just something to file, but Paton was asked in April last year if he thought Bridgewater was the kind of veteran quarterback who could do it, and Paton replied that Bridgewater was exactly the kind of veteran quarterback.
Biggest obstacle: It’s just not the immediate, no-questions-asked help many want to see, especially the growing crowd that somehow convinced themselves that Rodgers could switch to the Broncos in April last year. But if the Broncos make significant changes to the offensive staff or the coaching staff in general, the new staff might start the find-a-quarterback clock itself, just as the Broncos have done every time they make a change to the head coach. or offensive coordinator since Manning retired.