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Broncos 2023 training camp preview: Quarterbacks

Will the arrival of Sean Payton help Russell Wilson have a bounce back season?

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

We are just a few weeks away from the Denver Broncos hitting the field for their first training camp practice under new head coach Sean Payton. All eyes will be on quarterback Russell Wilson to see if the “leaner and meaner” Wilson is a better version of himself than the one we saw last year. This is a make-or-break year for Wilson, so he really needs to bounce back, otherwise, he may not be back with the team next season.

Now, Wilson is not the only quarterback on this roster. The Broncos currently have four quarterbacks on their roster, so there figures to be plenty of competition behind Wilson. Jarrett Stidham was brought in to be the backup but former Cowboys and XFL quarterback Ben DiNucci and former Cardinals quarterback Jarrett Guarantano will be pushing for that job as well.

So, Let’s take a more in-depth look at the Broncos’ quarterbacks heading into training camp.

Russell Wilson - Quarterback - 5-11, 215 pounds

Russell Wilson will be the starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos for the second straight year this year. However, the pressure is on for Wilson to have a bounce-back year for the team after having a career-worst year last season. This is also a make-or-break year for Wilson who will have to win over newly hired head coach Sean Payton. So, all eyes will be on Wilson from the start of training camp through the regular season.

We did see flashes of the old Wilson late last season, so hopefully we can see more of that this season. The addition of Payton will obviously help as well, but how much is the question? Hopefully, we can see the old Wilson this upcoming season and help get the Broncos back into the postseason.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Broncos' emphasis on improving their offensive line should benefit Wilson a good bit. He was routinely under pressure last season, so newly added right tackle Mike McGlinchey and left guard Ben Powers should help keep the pressure off him this upcoming season. Getting Tim Patrick back and hopefully, a healthy Javonte Williams back will be beneficial to Wilson’s success.

This will be the storyline we all follow through training camp, the preseason, and into the regular season. Ideally, Wilson rebounds and the Broncos become playoff contenders again, but it all really depends on Wilson. If he rebounds, great, but if not, Payton and the Broncos will look elsewhere for their franchise quarterback.

Jarrett Stidham - Quarterback - 6-3, 215 pounds

This past offseason, former Patriots and Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham signed a two-year, ten-million-dollar deal with the Broncos. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport stated that Stidham chose the Broncos because of his preference to play for head coach Sean Payton over other coaches.

It seems like the feelings about each side were mutual because Payton spoke glowingly about his quarterback earlier in the offseason. He told reporters that Stidham was “quietly” an important signing with the team and that he believes he can become a starter in the league.

“I think he’s young, but I think he’s someone that we had a good grade on coming out. We like the player. I think he played well in the 2 starts he had this year. If you study closely the San Francisco game, he’s smart at the line of scrimmage and so, there were a couple of directions, really, with that position. There were a handful of No. 2s that either I had worked with, or we felt comfortable with. but in this case, I think, it’s a No. 2 that his arrow is moving in a direction (motions upward) where we feel like he can become an NFL starter in our league. So, the evaluation was pretty crystal clear for all of us. I think he’s someone that’s going to be great in the room. He’s smart. And, so, that was quietly an important signing for us.”

Stidham was a surprise signing by the Broncos but it does make sense that Payton would want “his guy” in the quarterback room. Nobody really knows how the Russell Wilson experiment with Sean Payton will go, so having some insurance behind him that the head coach believes in is the way to go. Payton has a good eye for quarterbacks and has routinely got the most out of the ones playing for him. He did it with Drew Brees. Teddy Bridgewater, Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill(who is a tight end now), and others. So, I will trust his opinion and evaluation here.

The intrigue with Stidham mostly comes from how he performed against the dominant San Francisco 49ers defense. It was his first start of the season and he was dealing against a very good defense. He completed 23 of 34 passes for 365 yards for 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions and rushed the ball 7 times for 34 yards. The Raiders ultimately ended up losing in overtime, but that was a pretty damn good performance by Stidham. If Payton can build on that and get the most out of him moving forward, it will be intriguing to see how he performs.

How Stidham performs during training camp will be interesting. If Wilson struggles at all and Stidham looks better with the number two offense, the whispers will begin to happen. Ideally, Russ will perform well and this scenario does not happen, but that will be a storyline to watch during camp.

Ben DiNucci - Quarterback - 6-2, 205 pounds

The former Dallas Cowboys and XFL quarterback Ben DiNucci signed with the team after trying out for the team during the rookie minicamp practices.

DiNucci is a former seventh-round pick for the Dallas Cowboys during the 2020 NFL Draft and he quickly became a fan favorite. He has one career start under his belt where he completed 21 out of 40 passes for 180 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys ended up losing that game by the score of 23 to 9. Since then, DiNucci has served as a backup but was eventually waived by the Cowboys. He then was drafted by the XFL’s Seattle Sea Dragons and passed for 2,671 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.

Dallas Cowboys v Denver Broncos Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images

It is unlikely that DiNucci pushes Jarrett Stidham for the backup job, but he likely has a good shot to be the Broncos' third quarterback. That spot will most likely come on the Broncos' practice squad, but he gives the team some experienced depth to lean on if needed.

He will face competition from quarterback Jarrett Guarantano who is the Broncos' fourth quarterback on the roster. Heading into camp, I would expect DiNucci to have the edge in that battle, but that’s a battle we will see happen throughout camp and the preseason.

Jarrett Guarantano - Quarterback - 6’4, 220 pounds

Guarantano played his college ball at Tennessee and Washington State before going undrafted during the 2022 NFL Draft. He eventually signed with the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent before being waived by the team during the final cut-down period. He eventually signed on to their practice squad but was later released from there a month later. He eventually had a tryout with the Broncos in November and signed with their practice squad in early December.

He was later signed to their active roster for the final few games of the season. Now, he is battling with Stidham and DiNucci for a roster spot and a spot on the team's practice squad.

Arizona Cardinals v Tennessee Titans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Realistically, he is battling DiNucci, and likely the rest of the potentially available quarterbacks for a spot on their practice squad. Russell Wilson will be the starter while Jarrett Stidham will be the backup. After those two, DiNucci and Jarrett Guarantano will be fighting for the third quarterback spot.