In the latest installment of our Denver Broncos mailbag, Broncos Country asked why Sean Payton passed on choosing a tight end in this year’s NFL Draft and a variety of other questions regarding other positions.

Broncos Mailbag: Why did Sean Payton pass on choosing a tight end in the NFL Draft?

This question comes in from Mile High Moments on Twitter. He asks: “George Paton said that the Broncos needed to solidify the tight end room. Free agency and the draft have both come and gone, and the TE room is exactly the same as it was last season. Any idea why Denver chose a WR in the 7th round when Dallin Holker was available?”

This is a great question. I was asking myself the same thing as the draft went on, but it seems like the Broncos are embracing talking themselves into being comfortable with the tight-end group as it is currently assembled for one more season.

With the limited capital, Denver possessed in last week’s draft, other positions could have had more weighted value for them in their war room when addressing the roster. Internally, the Broncos are hopeful Greg Dulcich stays healthy this season, but they’re comfortable with Adam Trautman and Lucas Krull being their two headliners at the position if he can’t.

As it pertains to Holker, he didn’t test the greatest at the NFL Scouting Combine, scoring a 7.36 on Kent Platte’s Relative Athletic Score database.

The lower vertical jump isn’t ideal, and his 40-yard dash speed wasn’t great, but his three-cone and shuttle drill results were ranked in the elite category, along with his broad jump. While Holker was a local college product at CSU, it didn’t appear as if the Broncos had too much interest in him.

How many running backs will be on the 53-man roster this fall?

This question comes in from Kinlayy G on Twitter. It’s hard to estimate this far out what the 53-man roster will look like, specifically at running back, but the vision of the room on paper could give us some insight.

Javonte Williams, Samaje Perine, Tyler Badie and Jaleel McLaughlin have no further duration on their contracts beyond 2024 with the team. With the Broncos drafting Notre Dame bruiser Audric Estime in the fifth round of the NFL Draft, it adds a whole new wrinkle into the room.

Williams is coming off a difficult season just one year removed from a major knee injury and reconstructive surgery. The fact that he recovered in the timeline he did is miraculous, but he dealt with some rust, and Denver’s struggling offense didn’t help.

The Broncos like Williams, and he’ll be the likely starter for them this year, but behind him, the depth is wide open for competition. Perine, McLaughlin, Badie, and Estime should all compete for positioning in the rushing rotation during training camp.

Badie could be in line for another year on the practice squad, while Perine, on paper, appears like he could be the one with the most to lose this summer in camp. Payton values Perine’s veteran presence but also values McLaughlin’s potential as a ‘Joker’ and explosiveness in the run game.

Financially, if the Broncos were to move on from Perine this offseason, they’d only incur $1.5M in dead cap while freeing up $3M in cap space and giving Denver a diverse room that features Williams, Estime, and McLaughlin as the likely three-back combo.

Is Sean Payton going to be on the hot seat as some fans suggest?

This question comes in from Graham Tiedke on Twitter. “Is Sean Payton ever going to be on the hot seat, as suggested by some Broncos fans? Specifically, if the Bo Nix thing fails.”

The Walton-Penner Family Ownership Group is committed to Sean Payton for the long-haul. Last year’s debacle was frustrating for ownership and for Payton, but Denver’s deciding to go all in on a rookie quarterback this year buys him more room on the runway.

Nobody wants to win more than Payton and certainly ownership, who have invested significant capital in purchasing the team and upgrading the team facility, etc.

Whether or not Nix pans out requires time and a large sample size to evaluate. What matters is that within the next two or three seasons, the Broncos are ideally winning more football games and competing to get back into the postseason compared to having losing season after losing season.

If Denver continues to have losing seasons and that trend continues under Payton, he’d likely land himself on the hot seat, but not for the foreseeable future.

Ownership is backing and supporting him and George Paton.

Is the Broncos’ size at WR strategy a coincidence or strategy?

This question in our mailbag comes from TheFakeUr29 on Twitter. They state, “We have a huge WR core now. Sutton, Patrick, and Vele are 6’4″+, and Reynolds and Franklin are 6’3 each. Is this a Sean Payton thing, or is it just chance? Does Bo throw a good jump ball?”

Size is important to have at the receiver position in today’s NFL, especially for a young rookie quarterback to throw to. With Sutton and Patrick’s size and guaranteed involvement in the offense, it’s a nice security blanket trait to have for a developing offense.

Nix’s ball placement has been consistently great in his past two seasons at Oregon, and he can throw a beautiful fade ball in the endzone. In Payton’s offense, size is important in the receiving game but equally as important to him if it translates into helping the rushing offense get going.

Sutton and Patrick aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty as blockers, and the same can be said for Lil’Jordan Humphrey as well. Payton’s a coach who values size and speed, and he’s got a combination of athletic receivers who feature both of those traits and are heading into his offense this summer.

Once the 53-man roster is set, we’ll have a better idea of whether it’s truly a Payton thing or a coincidence.

Could Justin Simmons return this offseason?

John Perkins sent this question in on Twitter. From a salary cap perspective, the Broncos could still sign Justin Simmons to a contract, but it wouldn’t be a big contract.

The weirdest development of the offseason has been the safety market suddenly turning into the defensive version of the running back position.

Justin has been still present in Denver, attending Nuggets games and enjoying time with his family. He has several teams who are interested in him, and he’ll get the chance to determine where he’ll go.

With NFL teams finalizing their post-NFL Draft moves, Simmons will likely sign somewhere before July. Keep an eye on Denver, San Francisco, Houston, and Miami as potential destinations for him.

While Simmons has always wanted to win and stay in Denver, he deserves the opportunity to land with a contender for this season.

Is Zach Wilson redeemable or was the trade for him a waste of time?

This question comes in from long-time reader and viewer Ed Helinski. Great question here, Ed.

Wilson needed and deserved a new environment, in my opinion. Leaving the bright lights and harsher criticism of New York should be a relief for him, but Denver is also a tough place to play, especially with him being a quarterback.

While Payton says there will be a competition at quarterback, I believe it will likely be for the backup spot instead of the starting job while Nix starts in 2024.

Wilson, Jarrett Stidham, and Ben DiNucci don’t have any contract duration beyond this year in Denver, while Nix will be tied to the franchise for at least the next five seasons.

If Wilson wins the backup job behind Nix, the team would likely release Stidham, which would free up around $5M in salary cap space. Ultimately, Wilson winning the backup job would be the best-case scenario for Denver in this situation because it essentially costs them nothing, and there’s some upside to it.