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The fragile relationship between the Broncos and any QB continues; can the team get it right?

The Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson are all but over, and yet again, the team will be looking for a new signal caller this offseason. Can Sean Payton find his man in 2024?

New England Patriots v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Like The Simpsons after season six, the Denver Broncos search for a long-term quarterback has been increasingly painful, difficult to watch, and apparently has no end in sight.

And yet like fans of The Simpsons, Broncos Country continues to hope the formula eventually resets to the days of John Elway, Peyton Manning, and Marge vs. the Monorail. Yet, so far, that hope has not become reality. The team finally thought it had its answer when it traded a king’s ransom for former Super Bowl winner and nine-time Pro Bowler Russell Wilson.

The team was so confident in its acquisition that it blindly dumped $165 million in guaranteed money to go along with a five-year, $245 million contract on him despite having never seen him take a snap in a Broncos uniform. He has since been a colossal disappointment on the field, occasionally showing flashes of his prime self, but most appearing past his prime and incredibly limited as to what he can do in Sean Payton’s offense.

Therefore, the team made the decision to bench him the final two games of the season, and barring some kind of miraculous rom-com scene in which friends-turned-enemies reunite, it can be said with confidence the Russell Wilson era is over. And once again, the Broncos are in search of their franchise QB...which has been going on nearly a decade now.

So what are the options, given that the team will still be on the hook for a LOT of money owed to Wilson (nice job, execs, you all crushed that one)? Another big name acquisition isn’t happening. The team unfortunately played too well, as weird as that is to type, during weeks seven through 12, to be in position to land an elite QB prospect (barring someone bombing the combine or pro day). So Caleb Williams and Drake Maye are pretty much out.

Can Payton find a guy in the next tier he can use and develop? JJ McCarthy, Bo Nix, and others could potentially be had in the first round around the time Denver picks, but they aren’t exactly guarantees. The Broncos have already experimented with mid-to-late first round picks or early second-round picks with Drew Lock, Paxton Lynch, and Brock Osweiler, and all were busts.

The team could also take a chance on a guy looking to bounce back after losing favor with his other team, but that didn’t exactly work out with Joe Flacco or Case Keenum, so going in that direction seems pretty pointless.

Or perhaps Jarrett Stidham can work his way into the conversation. On the surface, it seems like the lazy move, but Payton likes him, and if he puts together an impressive enough two-game stretch to finish the year, maybe he earns a place in the debate. But seriously, how much can be gambled on during a two-game, pretty meaningless stretch? Would any performance really make the Broncos avoid looking at a young QB in April? Seems unlikely.

The most aggressive move, if the Broncos choose to make it, would be to trade away its best players to move up in the draft and potentially land a Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels. Pat Surtain II is a bonafide stud in the secondary, possibly the best cover corner in the league, and would have many teams drafting early interested. He will also command a lot in free agency once his rookie contract is up, and if the team is still paying Wilson, it’s hard to say whether they can appease him financially speaking.

If someone in the top five is wiling to part with their pick for Surtain and perhaps someone like Justin Simmons or Jerry Jeudy, do the Broncos say no? It will be once again a lot to give up for a guy who may or may not be the answer, but the Broncos have tried everything and nothing has worked.

They tried the retread with Teddy Bridgewater, Flacco, and Keenum. It didn’t work out. They tried the sleeper/project type with Lynch and Lock. Lynch was a miserable failure while Lock simply timed out (although just because he had a good game in Seattle doesn’t mean he's the answer there, either). They tried the Cinderella story with Trevor Siemian, and of course that didn’t work.

So what have they not tried? Grabbing a top draft prospect at the QB position. They are not bad enough to get into the top 10, but if they’re willing the team, does have assets to make a deal to get them in better position.

They passed on Josh Allen (who is having a huge career) and Justin Fields (who is not), but can they risk sitting back and hoping for the best yet again? It may be time to finally get aggressive in regards to a QB in the draft. The best two in franchise history were former number one picks.

If the team hopes to get back to the offensive performances led by those two, they may just have to do whatever it takes to find a franchise signal caller in the draft. Otherwise, we’ll continue to have the same conversation and debate season in and season out. I’d rather not.

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