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Mock Draft Monday - How could the Broncos build a Super Bowl contender around Aaron Rodgers?

There’ll still be work to do even after Paton trades for the future Hall of Famer.

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NFC Divisional Playoffs - San Francisco 49ers v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Broncos Country waits with bated breath to discover George Paton’s plan to solve the ongoing quarterback conundrum, which means it’s time to start exploring various scenarios. In the first part of this series I took a look at how a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo would impact team building, in the second I dug into what re-signing Teddy Bridgewater and drafting a Day two quarterback would look like. This time around we’re landing the big fish when Aaron Rodgers decides he prefers the Denver Broncos to the Green Bay Packers.

The Trade

The Denver Broncos acquire Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers in exchange for the ninth overall pick, the 40th overall pick, the 75th overall pick, a 2023 first, a 2023 second, and a 2024 first. The Packers incur a $26,847,138 dead cap hit as part of the deal while the Broncos take on the remaining $19,817,018 cap hit for Rodgers. Within hours of the trade the Broncos give Rodgers a two year extension following the blueprint laid out by Wendell Ferreira of Zone Coverage last week. Rodgers averages $50 million per year over the new years of the contract while the Broncos retain cap flexibility to build around the future Hall of Famer this offseason. Assuming the extension does not drive up Rodgers ‘22 cap number post trade, Paton is working with roughly 19.5 million in cap space, which would currently rank 15th in the NFL by Over the Cap projections.

Cuts

Punter Sam Martin is released to create $2.25 million in additional cap space. The Broncos incur a $483,334 dead cap fit for the move.

Nose tackle Mike Purcell is released to create $2,799,361 million in additional cap space. The Broncos incur a $1,548,334 dead cap hit for the move.

Key Re-signings

Calvin Anderson and Malik Reed return on Right of First Refusal RFA tenders, and each carries a $2.433 million cap hit into 2022.

Jonas Griffith and Seth Williams are retained as Exclusive rights free agents, which means they’re playing on one-year contracts at the league minimum.

Josey Jewell signs a two year contract worth $13 million with $8 million guaranteed.

Bobby Massie signs a one year contract worth $2.25 million with one million guaranteed.

Free Agency

Edge rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo signs a one year contract worth $2.25 million with one million guaranteed.

Defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson signs a one year fully guaranteed contract worth $3 million.

Following the aforementioned moves I conservatively project the Broncos to have a little more than $8 million in cap space. At this point it’d make sense for Paton to wait for the last wave of free agency after the draft in hopes of signing a late release or perhaps a ring chasing vet or two.

The Draft

I used The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine for the following draft scenario.

64. Arnold Ebiketie - ED - Penn State

The sell: A long 6’2 250 lb. edge rusher with some of the best bend in the class.

The rationale: A Rodgers led offense is going to score points, so more juice for the pass rush is going to go a long way. With Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed free agents in 2023 it makes sense to tap into this loaded edge class. A very good wide angle rusher with the twitch, bend, and hands to make hay in the league, Ebiketie should be an early contributor on passing downs and could carve out a notable role in the edge rotation. His toolbox already contains a good speed rush, speed to power, dip, and his tape is littered with promise as he’s working to expand his pass rush repertoire.

96. Troy Andersen - LB - Montana State

The sell: A developmental four down backer who would give the Broncos the most athletic duo in the league.

The rationale: Josey Jewell’s contract gives the Broncos stability besides Baron Browning in 2022 and provides the Broncos’ new coaching staff time to develop a long term answer with more upside. Andersen’s a former quarterback and running back who switched to linebacker after a 2018 where he scored 21 rushing touchdowns, the Bobcat’s single season record. He’s a very rangy sideline to sideline backer who will need to improve his processing and block deconstruction at the next level.

113. Rasheed Walker - OT - Penn State

The sell: A toolsy prospect who could become an impact starter if he hones his technique.

The rationale: Bobby Massie and Calvin Anderson give the Broncos a year to develop a long term answer at right tackle and Walker has the kind of body control, length, and power to do just that. He stands 6’6 and weighed in at the Combine at 325 lbs. and displays the reactive athleticism to become a reliable pass protector in the NFL.

144. Cole Strange - iOL - Chattanooga

The sell: An elite small school athlete with 44 career starts under his belt.

The rationale: The Broncos interior line is facing an uncertain future. Dalton Risner and Graham Glasgow could both be gone by 2023, and while Lloyd Cushenberry improved in his second season his anchor and play strength remain problematic. Given the time it often takes linemen to develop, it’d make sense to draft and develop another prospect. Like Quinn Meinerz before him, Strange turned heads at the Senior Bowl and followed it up with a very impressive Combine performance.

151. Thomas Booker - DL - Stanford

The sell: An athletic and versatile 301 pounder who’s played all over the defensive front.

The rationale: The defensive line currently consists of Dre’Mont Jones, Shelby Harris, Sheldon Richardson, and relatively unproven players like McTelvin Agim and Marquiss Spencer, so competition would make a ton of sense. Booker is a former team captain and three-year starter with the tools to make an impact at the next level if he can improve his repertoire, but will need to improve his anchor against down blocks and double teams.

247. Jermaine Waller - CB - Virginia Tech

The sell: Developmental inside/out corner with skills for mix of zone and man coverage.

The rationale: At present the cornerback room consists of Patrick Surtain II, Ronald Darby, Michael Ojemudia, and Essang Bassey. Every one of them spent time on either the Physically Unable to Perform list or Injured Reserve in 2021. Waller is a former quarterback with the savvy, temperament, and ball skills to carve out a niche on defense, though he may be best in the slot given size and long speed questions.

Final thoughts

I’m going to admit I hope the Broncos make a move for Aaron Rodgers after considering the realistic alternatives. A trade for the 38-year-old would immediately make the Broncos relevant again and give them a shot the Super Bowl in 2022.

Following the scenario above I would hope the Broncos are looking under every stone for reinforce the cornerback room. With that said I’m pretty happy with how the mock offseason turned out.

Poll

What grade would you give the Broncos for an offseason like this?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    A - I hope Paton does this.
    (258 votes)
  • 30%
    B - Pretty solid, all things considered
    (389 votes)
  • 26%
    C - I don’t like it, but I don’t hate it.
    (342 votes)
  • 8%
    D - Pretty gross
    (110 votes)
  • 14%
    F - This is awful
    (188 votes)
1287 votes total Vote Now