Breaking News: The Denver Broncos need a Quarterback. It’s been the story for nearly a decade. In a league where passing the ball has never been more vital, Denver enters yet another offseason with a giant question mark at the most important position in professional sports.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news for Broncos Country, but it doesn’t seem like Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, or Kirk Cousins are bound for the Orange and Blue. And with uninspiring classes in the draft and free agency it feels as though the fanbase should be prepared for another year of better luck next time at the QB position.
We’re on to year two for George Paton, and the pressure to find a franchise passer grows by the second. With new ownership looming, there may not be time for Paton to continue bandaging the most valuable position on the franchise.
While the idea of starting a cheap below-average starter with the hopes of landing a Bryce Young/CJ Stroud makes sense, I don’t believe it is in Paton’s, or the coaching staff’s best interest to embrace the tank. While it may benefit the franchise to land on the fast-track to a top pick, wasting another season of the young roster’s development and continuing a losing tradition could have unseen ripple effects throughout the entire organization. Aiming for the tank could mean the firing of George Paton with new ownership. It could lead to the firing of many young members on the coaching staff that many in Broncos Country are so excited to have. The team’s upcoming Free Agents and players from around the league, won’t want to be part of a losing organization. It is also essential to get proper evaluations on players such as Noah Fant, Jerry Jeudy, and Javonte Williams before their rookie deals are up, which is made infinitely harder when they are hamstrung by worst-in-the-league QB play.
As I’ve said, there aren’t many great options for George Paton or the Denver Broncos. And I won’t pretend I’m excited about many of the names I’m going to discuss, but here are the possible avenues I believe the Denver Broncos could take at QB for the 2022 season.
It’s not impossible until it is but the hopes of landing a genuine above-average QB seem very unlikely for Denver this offseason. Green Bay is moving every dollar imaginable in an attempt to retain their back-to-back MVP. Russell Wilson seems likely to remain in Seattle or relocate to the East coast, and Kirk Cousins and Kevin O’Connell still haven’t stopped making googly eyes at each other. If any one of these gentlemen becomes available, George shouldn’t hesitate to make an offer they can’t refuse. Sadly for Broncos fans, these team’s recognize the immense value QB’s of this caliber bring to a team, and probably won’t be moving on from them any time soon.
No strategy makes more sense to me than a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, and I absolutely hate it. After eliminating Hackett and Outten’s Packers for the second consecutive year, Denver shells out a couple day-two picks for inarguably the fourth best Quarterback in the AFC West. History in Hackett’s scheme, long trade history between San Francisco and Denver, checks the “leadership” box, excess trade capital for Denver. It honestly makes too much sense. He’s a worthy bridge QB and at his best could lead Denver to a wildcard run, but that feels like his absolute ceiling, and he doesn’t provide the floor of a Top-5 selection. With the cost of draft capital, if Paton wants an average-at-best veteran he can trust to keep his offense somewhat respectable, he should just look to re-sign Teddy Bridgewater on a short term deal. They offer nearly the same ceiling, and Teddy doesn’t cost Top 100 draft picks.
Unlike most other draft classes, this year’s lacks a Top-5 pick worthy QB. That’s not to say it’s a bad class, but more so one that doesn’t offer the ‘savior’ type of QB many franchises, such as Denver, hope for. Malik Willis, Sam Howell, Kenny Pickett, Carson Strong, etc. are all promising in their own right, but each possess their own issues that should keep teams from investing too heavily. Of all these passers, Malik Willis offers the most upside, and is the QB I would bet on Denver selecting at ninth overall. Willis brings elite tools for the position, and with the right coaching could develop into a top-tier NFL QB. With Paton hiring Hackett and Hackett’s particularly youthful staff, there isn’t a better time to go get their guy. If Hackett and Outten believe they can build a scheme around Willis or any other rookie QB, and buy into them fully as the QB of the future, they should draft them without hesitation.
Indulge me if you will, for just one moment. What if I told you there was a Quarterback drafted in the first round and coached by Nathaniel Hackett for his first two seasons? What if I told you that the same Quarterback should be looking for a trade once a certain Number 12 re-signs in Green Bay and can be acquired for pennies on the dollar? What if I told you this boom-or-bust prospect going on his third season is YOUNGER than some members of the incoming rookie class? Well folks… he’s real, and his name is Jordan Love. Now I’m not telling anyone I believe in Jordan Love; in the sixty or so regular season snaps I watched him take, my jaw remained firmly attached to my head. But of all the possible options for next season, this one offers the most upside with the smallest investment. Love possesses all the glitz and glamor of a toolsy, young gunslinger, while additionally offering experience in the new coach’s offensive scheme. This is a player with comparable tools to the incoming rookies,who wouldn’t cost a high pick to acquire. It’s a massive risk which should only be taken based on the word of Hackett, one of the coaches Love has worked with the most. However, if he believes in Love they should pull the trigger. In Nathaniel Hackett’s first season as Green Bay’s OC he was part of the group that moved up to select Love in the first round, and in his first season with Denver he could do something similar.
As I’ve said, I don’t think it’s a smart move from the front office’s perspective, but I can understand the argument behind doing so. We already have a startable guy on the roster in Drew, he costs next to nothing for us to play, and who knows, maybe this is finally the year Lock puts it all together and the team is good anyway! That all makes sense in a Madden game, but this is real-life. Starting Drew Lock, or attempting to revive the career of Mitch Trubisky, has consequences, whether it’s the firing of talented staff in an attempt to scapegoat, or a loss of talent because players don’t want to play for a joke franchise, or young guys who don’t develop as much as they would have because they were hampered by the QB. A Top-3 pick can turn a franchise around, but it won’t have the opportunity if the rest of the organization is in shambles. Just look at the Jacksonville Jaguars and Trevor Lawrence. Entering the 2022 regular season with a QB room of Drew Lock and *insert random veteran hasbeen* would be irresponsible to say the least; let’s hope Paton has something better in mind.
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