During an OTA practice in May, backup quarterback Ben DiNucci threw an interception right in front of Broncos owner and Walmart CEO Greg Penner.
So head coach Sean Payton wanted to test his backup’s mental toughness by teasing him that if the NFL doesn’t work out, he could probably get a job at WalMart.
“I was telling Greg before practice how this Ben DiNucci was doing well. I told Ben—I said, ‘You know, he owns Walmart. If it doesn’t work out here, I’m sure there’s a greeting opportunity somewhere at one of his local stores (laughs).’”
But at least the head coach acknowledged that it was mostly just a good defensive play.
“It was good play by [Drew] Sanders and it was right in front of Greg Penner,” Payton said.
#Broncos coach Sean Payton told backup QB Ben DiNucci: 'There’s a Greeting job at Walmart' open for him after he threw a pick-6 at practice— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) May 16, 2023
The Broncos ownership also owns Walmart. pic.twitter.com/hBCdPhYAOi
Height: 6-foot-2| Weight: 215 pounds
Experience: Second season | Age: 26 years old
A graduate of James Madison University, DiNucci was a seventh-round pick for the Dallas Cowboys in 2020. He was activated for four games, played three and started one. The following season, the Cowboys stashed him on the practice squad, and then cut him in 2022.
DiNucci took a QB job with the XFL Seattle Sea Dragons in 2023 and led them to their first playoff berth, clinching second place in the North Division. The Sea Dragons lost to the DC Defenders in the North Division title game in the playoffs, but DiNucci garnered a lot of attention.
2023 outlook for Broncos backup QB Ben DiNucci
To say that DiNucci - or any of the backup QBs on the roster - are playing to push Russell Wilson out of a job is pretty absurd. Sure, they’re there to keep him honest, but Wilson is the starter and the only “quarterback competition” going on will be the order of the backups.
With Sean Payton as coach there is certainly more likelihood that even a high-contract player like Wilson could get benched if someone is playing better, but to think Payton isn’t heading into this season thinking of Wilson as the unequivocal starter is bonkers.
That said, there’s a lot for DiNucci and the other QBs to be playing for at camp. Making the roster at all, for starters, and then being named No. 2 behind Wilson.
And in that race, the competition between Jarrett Stidham - the backup the Broncos took from the Raiders in the offseason - and DiNucci will be a very intriguing one.
Stidham has just a few more starts than DiNucci and doesn’t have a season of Wild West XFL to rely on for experience like DiNucci, but he did have a good first NFL start last season where he filled in for Derek Carr and threw 365 yards, three TDs and led the Raiders to 34 points against the best defense in the NFL, the 49ers.
My prediction is that DiNucci is named the No. 3 QB on the roster behind Stidham, but if his XFL fans have anything to say about it, DiNucci could have more than just a career as WalMart greeter.
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