The 2022 Denver Broncos offseason will go down as one of the biggest offseasons in the franchise’s illustrious history. They made a coaching change, pulled off one of the biggest trades in NFL history, signed some high-profile free agents, and were sold at a record-high price and bought by the wealthiest owner in the NFL currently.
So, there is a lot of excitement surrounding the Broncos, and I will recap everything that went down in detail here in this post.
Hiring head coach Nathaniel Hackett
After a rough 2021 season that saw the Broncos once again struggle in all facets of the game, general manager George Paton decided it was time to move on from Vic Fangio. Also leaving the Broncos were all of his coordinators and a bunch of assistant coaches. So, the Broncos cleaned house a good bit in the coaching ranks (outside a few positional coaches) and wanted to start fresh in 2022.
Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was the favorite from the start for the head coaching gig because of his relationship with Paton. He was among the coaches the Broncos traveled the country to interview to finalize their process. In the end, it came down to two finalists: Quinn and Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett.
The Broncos brought both men in for a second interview, and in the end, Paton decided to hire the energetic Hackett as the Denver Broncos' next head coach.
With Hackett came an offensive-minded coach with some new-school ways of doing things mixed together with some old-school football. Also coming with Hackett was the return of the West Coast offense, which former head coach Mike Shanahan ran here in Denver during the late ‘90s and 2000s to great success.
Hackett brought Packers tight ends coach Justin Outten with him to Denver to be the Broncos offensive coordinator, and he also brought his good friend and L.A. Rams secondary coach Ejiro Evero to coach the Broncos defense. Hackett raided the Rams once again to hire Dwayne Stukes to coach special teams. All of these coaches are first timers in the roles they are occupying, but they do bring some youth, energy, and some new-age ways of doing things to the Broncos, which was much needed.
With the coaching staff figured out, the next step in Paton’s process to improve the Broncos was to address the quarterback position.
You already know what happened next, but he did address it in quite a big way.
The Russell Wilson trade
After reports leaked out an hour before the 2021 NFL Draft linking the Broncos to quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the focus was fully on bringing the back-to-back reigning MVP to Denver. However, after a rollercoaster of reports, rumors, and nonsense that drove Broncos fans crazy, we all were dealt a tough blow when Rodgers announced he was returning to the Packers and signing an extension.
Jimmy Garoppolo? Kirk Cousins? Pickett? Malik Willis? Go with Drew Lock again? The remaining realistic options were not great at all, and the Broncos would once again be without a quarterback. Russell Wilson rumors were out there, but they seemed unlikely at best, especially after Pete Carroll said “we have no intention” of trading Wilson.
Then, a few hours after Aaron Rodgers killed our hopes and dreams, it happened.
Blockbuster: After weeks of negotiations, in one of the largest trades in NFL history, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos have agreed to terms for a deal involving Super-Bowl winning QB Russell Wilson, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2022
Trade is pending a physical and Wilson’s approval. pic.twitter.com/oRFDV8Ehyx
The Denver Broncos traded QB Drew Lock, DL Shelby Harris, TE Noah Fant, a 21 and 22 first-round pick, a 21 and 22 second-round pick, and a 21 fifth-round pick for quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Broncos went from being stuck in NFL purgatory of not being good enough for the postseason and just good enough to be out of reach of the top quarterback prospects to being elevated into contender talk almost immediately.
Wilson gives the Broncos and legit top quarterback who should be a two-time Super Bowl winner, a nine-time Pro Bowler, and someone who can lead the Broncos back to the postseason and back into the Super Bowl where they belong. He was a major get for Paton and the Broncos.
Getting Wilson out of Seattle and a Pete Carroll offense that held him back into a Nathaniel Hackett offense that helped rejuvenate Rodgers’ career should pay major dividends for the Broncos. Wilson joins a deep offense that really just needed a quarterback to bring all its potential together.
With head coach and quarterback now figured out, Paton and the Broncos' next course of action was free agency.
Heading into free agency, the main focus was on improving the pass rush. After the Broncos traded away Von Miller to the Buffalo Bills, the pass rush was almost nonexistent and that obviously needed to change.
However, Paton threw us a bit of a curveball when it was announced the 49ers’ nose tackle D.J. Jones signed with the Broncos to help improve the run defense. He was a stud in that role for the San Francisco 49ers last season and will be an immediate upgrade for the Broncos.
The Broncos did ultimately get their pass rusher when they signed Randy Gregory away from the Dallas Cowboys in a bit of a dramatic turn of events.
Report: Broncos agree to terms with edge rusher Randy Gregory https://t.co/a63EUb4ejo— MileHighReport (@MileHighReport) March 15, 2022
It was reported that Gregory re-signed with the Cowboys initially, but the talented pass rusher flipped to the Broncos after disagreeing with some of the language in his contract.
So, the Broncos got themselves another big win in the offseason. Gregory, when healthy, has shown he can be a disruptive pass rusher and should immediately do this for the Broncos as long as he’s physically ready to go.
Here are the other free agents the Denver Broncos signed:
- Re-signed ILB Josey Jewell
- OT Tom Compton
- OT Billy Turner
- Re-signed OT Calvin Anderson
- CB K’Waun Williams
- ILB Alex Singleton
- QB Josh Johnson
- TE Eric Tomlinson
- S J.R. Reed
- Re-signed S Kareem Jackson
- Re-signed FB/TE Andrew Beck
- G Ben Braden
- Re-signed DL DeShawn Williams
- Re-signed RB Melvin Gordon
- CB Bless Austin
- Re-signed TE Eric Saubert
So it was a solid free agency period for Paton, who addressed every area of need and made the major additions where he had to. Pretty much everyone listed above will contribute and have a role on this team this upcoming season, so that is all you can ask for from a free agency group.
After the Russell Wilson trade, the Denver Broncos and Paton still had plenty of picks to play with. But their first pick was the final pick in the second round.
Even after signing Randy Gregory, the Broncos were targeting an edge rusher. The pass rush unit was a weak point last season, so adding as much depth as possible was a priority this offseason.
Night 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft came and went, and all of Broncos Country was watching Wilson highlights to pass the time. Now on Day 2, we had to wait until the final pick of the second round to see the Broncos’ first selection, and they ended up getting their guy. Oklahoma’s Nik Bonitto, an edge rusher, was the Broncos' selection in the second round.
In the third round, the Broncos were looking to upgrade their tight end room. They traded back a few spots to gather some extra picks before selecting UCLA’s Greg Dulcich in the third round. He’s a highly explosive tight end who should contribute during his rookie season.
Here are the Broncos' complete 2022 NFL Draft selections.
- 2-64: EDGE Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma
- 3-80: TE Greg Dulcich, UCLA
- 4-115: CB Damarri Mathis, Pittsburgh
- 4-116: IDL Eyioma Uwazurike, Iowa State
- 5-152: S Delarrin Turner-Yell, Oklahoma
- 5-162: WR Montrell Washington, Samford
- 5-171: IOL Luke Wattenberg, Washington
- 6-206: IDL Matt Henningsen, Wisconsin
- 7-232: CB Faion Hicks, Wisconsin
Despite not having a selection until the last pick of the second round, Paton and the Broncos brought in a decent haul of players who should contribute their rookie year.
After being owned by Pat Bowlen for years, the Denver Broncos were officially put up for sale in 2022. The team was being run by the trust Bowlen set up before his death, and the trust decided it was time to sell.
A franchise like the Broncos does not hit the market very often, so the rumored price tag of the team looked to be a record-breaking sale. In the end, the Broncos were sold to Rob Walton for a whopping $4.65 billion dollars. Walton is the heir to the Walmart fortune, and is now the wealthiest owner in the enter NFL.
Now, it will be Rob Walton who is the majority owner with his daughter, Carri Walton-Penner, and son-in-law, Greg Penner, handling the day-to-day management of the franchise. The ownership group also brought in some big names as minority owners. Those include Melody Hobson, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and F1 race car champion Sir Lewis Hamilton.
This was a historic offseason for the Broncos. The team hired a brand new coaching staff, traded for a future Hall of Fame quarterback, had a productive free agency and draft period, and were purchased by a billionaire who is now the richest owner in the NFL by far.
The future looks bright for our Denver Broncos, and hopefully this historic season is capped off by Wilson hoisting a Lombardi Trophy as the 2022 Super Bowl-winning quarterback for the Denver Broncos.