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The future of the Broncos begins now

Yesterday’s news regarding Russell Wilson signals one thing—Sean Payton is thinking about the long-term future of the Denver Broncos.

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Good morning, Broncos Country.

Yesterday’s news regarding Russell Wilson might have been expected by some, but certainly came to a surprise for many fans, analysts, and reporters across the league.

After their loss to the New England Patriots, my opinion was that it was clear Wilson wasn’t the future and Denver. I believed that game signified a year long struggle to find offensive consistency. Moreover, that Sean Payton would do whatever it took to find himself a different path (or signal caller) for the future in Denver.

Make no mistake my friends, yesterday’s news can mean a lot of things, but I think it’s quite clear Wilson’s time in Denver is over. The underlying takeaway from everything that hit the airwaves and digital platforms on Wednesday afternoon signifies one thing—Payton is thinking about what is in the best interest to the team. He is thinking about the future.

Payton has crafted numerous Top 5 offenses over the course of his coaching career. Yes, he had Drew Brees, but the staples of that offense were always the same. Being able to hit guys over the middle of the field, working concepts that stress the defense in the short and intermediate routes, throwing to spots and zones in the field and not having a penchant for locking on to one particular guy.

When the Broncos hired Sean Payton to be their head coach, it really intrigued me, and one question kept rolling through my mind.

“Can Wilson’s style of play and Paytons’ offensive philosophy mesh successfully?

Wilson has never been a great anticipatory thrower. Even during his best years in the NFL, being able to consistently hit on those concepts with timing and accuracy was suspect. I think from what we have seen on the field this year, there are just too many limitations to a Wilson led offense and, in the end, with Denver’s playoff hopes essentially vanquished—the made a tough decision.

With that in mind, I think it’s fair to state Wilson’s play is much better as a whole compared to last season under Nathaniel Hackett. Unfortunately, the offense hasn’t excelled in on particular area and has been absolutely dreadful coming out in the second half. There is no doubt that Payton deserves some of the blame for the inconsistencies we’ve witnessed on a week-to-week basis. After all, he is the head coach.

However, I would argue that Wilson’s inability to excel in areas requisite for success in Payton’s offense and generally in the national football league are a huge red flag. The dead money hit the Broncos will incur when they eventually part ways with Wilson will be enormous, but not insurmountable.

Truth be told, they will have to rely heavily on additions in the draft over the next few seasons. And if I was a betting man, I’d venture to say they won’t be extremely active bringing in outside free agents over the next few seasons. For whatever reason, dating back years, Denver’s return on their free agent investment has been quite poor.

All and all, the future of the Broncos begins now. And I’d expect them to be very active in the draft pursuing a quarterback to be the leader of the future. But if they can’t navigate their way to obtain one of their top prospects at the position, I’d venture they will trade back and acquire as many picks as possible to reforge the team.

Without a legitimate starting quarterback you aren’t winning anything in the national football league. It’s quite clear that the Broncos don’t have one. That being said, it’s going to be another wild ride this offseason covering their pursuit of who they believe can be the future in the Mile High City. Are you ready, Broncos Country. I sure am!

As always—thanks for reading. Here is today’s slate of articles for Horse Tracks.

Broncos News & Tidbits

Has Russell Wilson played his last game for the Broncos? - ESPN
Wilson's five-year, $242.6 million contract signed in 2022 carries plenty of potential salary cap pain if Wilson isn't behind center in 2024, but coach Sean Payton has been open about his displeasure with the offense.

Injury Report: OLB Nik Bonitto returns to practice ahead of matchup vs. Chargers
Bonitto was a limited participant in Denver’s Wednesday practice as the Broncos prepare for a Week 17 matchup with the Chargers.

Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos: Game predictions, picks, odds
Predictions and picks for the 2023 NFL Week 17 matchup between the Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos.

Kareem Jackson returns 'home' to Houston, looking to put suspensions behind him
Kareem Jackson is back with the Houston Texans, a place the veteran safety calls home....

Sean Payton 'embarrassed' Russell Wilson 'every chance he got': RG3
Russell Wilson has faced some tough opponents this season, but none tougher than his own head coach Sean Payton, at least in the mind of former NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Broncos hoping benching Russell Wilson will give team ‘a spark offensively’
With two games left in the season and the playoffs almost out of reach, the Broncos are looking for an offensive spark by switching quarterbacks.

NFL News & Tidbits

Travis Kelce says Chiefs’ offensive woes ‘not just one guy’
Travis Kelce says everyone on the Chiefs — including himself — has a hand in the team’s offensive problems.

Cowboys’ Micah Parsons voices frustration with officiating
Cowboys edge rusher Micah Parsons spoke out Wednesday about the lack of penalty calls he gets.

NFL RB Index, Week 17: Top five rushing quarterbacks
Maurice Jones-Drew examines the top rushing quarterbacks in the NFL right now. Where does Justin Fields sit? Plus, check out his updated ranking of the top 15 running backs.

Packers suspend CB Jaire Alexander one game following coin toss incident
The Green Bay Packers suspended cornerback Jaire Alexander for one game for his pregame coin toss antics ahead of Sunday’s win in Carolina.

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa (thumb/quad) limited at practice ahead of Ravens game
Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was limited in practice Wednesday due to quadriceps and left thumb ailments, according to the day’s practice report.