The Denver Broncos have searched high and low for a suitable replacement for Peyton Manning. From first-round bust Paxton Lynch to journeyman quarterbacks such as Teddy Bridgewater, the Broncos have yet to find ‘their guy’.
Last April, the NFL world went up in flames as rumors pointed Aaron Rodgers towards Denver just before the 2021 NFL draft began. That stoked flame burned for months before winding down just before the season.
A new and equally exciting opportunity may be landing in the Broncos’ lap, solving their quarterback conundrum. That opportunity is to acquire an elite talent in Russell Wilson.
Last offseason, there were rumors of Wilson’s potential exit from Seattle, but Denver was not listed as a potential suitor.
Fast forward to December 8th, 2021, when news hit about Russell Wilson’s desire to move cities again, and this time, the Broncos made the cut.
— Jordan Schultz (@Schultz_Report) December 8, 2021
Wilson, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback, reportedly would waive his no-trade clause for the Broncos, New York Giants, and New Orleans Saints.
Last offseason, in his first season on the job, general manager George Paton was unable to pull off the home-run deal for Wilson or Rodgers. However, this time around, he will have an entire offseason to make it work.
How Denver’s roster can appeal to Wilson’s desire to win
The news that the Broncos appeal to Wilson should not come as a surprise.
Before the 2021 season began, the Broncos boasted a top-10 roster per Pro Football Focus. That roster will see minimal turnover among its key players, especially with their young offense.
With extensions for Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, Denver’s top six receivers will be back. This does not include the return of K.J. Hamler from injury.
Additionally, Denver’s stud runner Javonte Williams will be back, and they have 80 percent of their starting offensive line under contract for 2022.
Then you get to add Denver’s young and talented defense to the picture, so what is there not to like from an on-field perspective?
Next, circling back to the roster in the current ESPN’s Power Rankings, the Broncos sit above the Giants and Saints. Denver is the only team of these rumored franchises to not have a losing record. This suggests that if any of these prospective rosters is only a quarterback away, it is the Broncos.
The proof of what this team can be is also visible with the team’s .500 record. When the Broncos have gotten solid quarterback play they have won. When current quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has struggled, the team has lost. One could look at the schedule and make a connection to an 8-4, 9-3, or even 10-2 record for the Broncos if they got above-average play from their signal-caller.
How the Broncos can make the deal work better than Giants, Eagles, or Saints
The Broncos have a lot to offer Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. An argument can be made that is more than any of the other rumored destinations. So far, Wilson has been linked to the New York Giants and New Orleans Saints by Schultz while other reports suggest that the Philadephia Eagles may be in play as well.
First, the Broncos have the ability to absorb Wilson’s current contract better than either the Giants, Eagles, or Saints.
Per Spotrac, whatever team absorbs Wilson’s contract will take on $24 million for the 2022 season.
Using Spotrac’s financial data, Denver has plenty of room not only to take on Wilson’s contract, offer an extension, and still have room to add players. Where they are projected to have $48.45 million in cap space this upcoming offseason, the Eagles only have $15.45 million, the Giants have a measly $4.63 million, and the Saints are deep in the red with a projected $-49.46 million.
Now any team can make some accounting adjustments to fit Wilson, but the Broncos are in the strongest position of these teams by far.
However, for any deal to work compensation must go back in return. The Giants and Eagles both own multiple first-round selections in the 2022 draft. The Giants own a pair of selections; their own and the pick acquired from the Chicago Bears. Additionally, the Giants own additional selections in the third and fourth rounds. The Eagles own their top pick along with the Dolphins and Colts’ first-round selections. The Saints can only offer their own first and second-round selections this upcoming draft as they sent a third-round pick to Houston.
Denver acquired two additional day-two selections in the trade sending Von Miller to the Los Angels Rams. With the Rams 2022 second and third-round pick, the Broncos now own five top-100 selections.
The Seahawks may not want to draft a quarterback in 2022, so multiple firsts this year may not be enough. Denver’s ability to offer multiple draft picks this year and potentially more into next should earn them a place at the negotiation table with a competitive offer.
Broncos 2022 coaching staff could be the difference
As the season ends, the Broncos will either be in a playoff run or looking for a new head coach. Currently, the Saints are the only team with an established winning head coach in Sean Payton. Philadelphia is currently working with a first-year coaching staff that has had minimal success this season, and the Giants have been abysmal throughout Joe Judge’s tenure thus far.
The Broncos could provide Wilson with several attractive options. First, come to Denver and play for Vic Fangio. It has been no secret that Fangio prefers to leave his offense and quarterback alone while he handles the defensive side of the ball. Like Peyton Manning’s arrival in 2012, Wilson could bring his preferred offense — including the offensive coordinator of his choice — to Denver and play for a coach who will get out of his way.
Additionally, the Broncos could bring in an entirely new staff coaching staff if they miss the playoffs this season. A say in the vision of the organization could appeal to Wilson’s long-voiced desire to be a part of the direction of the football team he calls his own.
In the end, Wilson has a no-trade clause and can steer his next landing spot. With that said, as discussed on Mile High Sports’ Orange and Brew Podcast, Denver offers plenty of reasons it should be preferred over the rest.
— Orange and Brew Podcast (@orange_and_brew) December 9, 2021
Paton and the Broncos offer a good young roster, ready to compete with the NFL’s best. Furthermore, Denver offers financial flexibility to further build around Wilson along with the draft capital necessary to make a strong offer to Seattle.
Some cities may offer more exposure, but football-wise, Denver offers a chance for Wilson to get back on top. Wilson and his wife, singer Ciara, may want a bigger venue. However, a case can be made that Manning was the most popular American sports athlete for some time playing in Indianapolis and Denver.
Wilson could follow in the footsteps of Elway and Manning and add another chapter to the Broncos-storied quarterback history.