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The Broncos’ hopes for 2023 rest squarely on Sean Payton’s shoulders

We will give you an in-depth look at the key departures the Broncos head this offseason as well as the lengthy additions they made to this team and how they all will fit and impact the team moving forward.

NFL: Denver Broncos Head Coach Sean Payton Introductory Press Conference Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos had yet another eventful offseason, and it began before the 2022 season even ended.

We saw an in-season head coaching change, a long drama-filled head coaching search that ended with the Broncos trading away a first-round pick to get their coach. We then saw the team flex their financial strength during free agency and be one of the more active teams during that period. That aggressiveness continued into the draft when despite not picking until the third round of the draft, the team traded up twice and surprisingly, took a receiver with their first pick in the draft.

We will give you an in-depth look at the key departures the Broncos had this offseason as well as the lengthy list of additions they made to this team and how they all will fit and impact the team moving forward.

Key Departures

The key departures for the Broncos started last year, the day after Christmas when they announced that they have fired head coach Nathaniel Hackett after just 15 games. The Broncos severely underperformed, he gave up play-calling duties, struggled with game management, and lost control of the sideline during the Christmas Day massacre against the Rams.

The in-season firings did not end there. Later that day, interim head coach Jerry Rosburg announced that special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes and offensive line coach Butch Berry has been dismissed. We saw the Broncos' special teams unit struggle while the entire offensive line regressed under Berry, so the moves had to happen. This set the tone for the rest of the offseason where we saw a complete overhaul of the Broncos coaching staff.

After Nathaniel Hackett’s firing, the future of defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero looked murky. Not because of his coaching ability — he did a wonderful job during his first year as defensive coordinator — but his friendship and relationship with Hackett complicated matters. The two are very good friends and ultimately as the offseason progressed, the Broncos and Evero mutually agreed to go their separate ways. They let him opt out of his contract and ultimately ended up being hired by the Carolina Panthers to be their defensive coordinator.

On the player side, the one notable departure the Broncos had this offseason was defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones. He developed into one of the better players on the roster and was set to hit free agency. The team decided against placing the franchise tag on Jones and allowed him to test the market in free agency. This pretty much guaranteed that Jones would sign elsewhere, and that is exactly what happened when he signed a three-year, $51,530,000 dollar deal with the Seattle Seahawks. This left a massive hole along the Broncos' defensive line and one they would need to address during the offseason.

Key Additions

The biggest addition the Broncos made this offseason was the hiring of former long-time New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. It was a complicated process because the Broncos needed to trade for Payton, which they ultimately ended up doing. They sent the first-rounder they got from the Miami Dolphins in the Bradley Chubb trade and a future second-rounder to the Saints for Payton. This was the big needle-mover the Broncos needed. Payton quickly started taking steps to change the losing culture that thrived in Denver and started by overhauling the coaching staff.

Payton lured longtime special teams coach Mike Westhoff out of retirement and named him the assistant head coach who will oversee the special teams unit. He then hired former Los Angeles Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi to be his offensive coordinator. Lombardi coached for him in New Orleans and made a lot of sense as a hire.

One of the surprising coaching hires the Broncos made was hiring former quarterback Davis Webb, who just retired as a player, to be their quarterbacks coach. He was the backup quarterback for the Giants this past season, but now will work with Russell Wilson and the rest of the Broncos quarterbacks.

On the defensive side, the big move was hiring former Denver Broncos head coach Vance Joseph to be the defensive coordinator. He was fired by the Broncos just a short few years ago and then coached the Arizona Cardinals defense up until this past year. Now, he will rejoin the Broncos franchise, but this time, coaching their defense and replacing Ejiro Evero.

On the player side, the Broncos were very active in free agency and agreed to terms with multiple players on the first two days of the legal tampering period. They quickly agreed to terms with former Baltimore Ravens lineman Ben Powers to replace Dalton Risner at left guard. They then agreed to terms with San Francisco 49ers right tackle Mike McGlinchey to be their right tackle for the foreseeable future.

These two signings were big-money deals where the Broncos went out and signed the best available free agents at their position in the hopes of improving their offensive line. They did not stop there when they agreed to terms with former Patriots and Raiders quarterback Jarrett Stidham to be their backup quarterback. They then re-signed breakout inside linebacker Alex Singleton to be a tackling machine in the middle of their defense.

The Broncos continued to put an emphasis on blocking when they agreed to terms with tight end Chris Manhertz, who is regarded as one of the better blocking tight ends in the league and run-blocking fullback Michael Burton.

My favorite signing the Broncos made was when they agreed to terms with former Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Zach Allen. He is coming off a breakout year and will be reunited with Vance Joseph, who coached him for his entire career in Arizona and now will do the same in Denver. Allen will replace Dre’Mont Jones's role on defense and will hopefully be a key player for them on defense.

In what may be the most underrated signing the Broncos made this offseason, they agreed to terms with former Bengals running back Samaje Perine. He will serve as insurance for the injured Javonte Williams and could thrive in Sean Payton’s multi-back system. Later in the offseason, after edge rusher Baron Browning suffered a knee injury, the Broncos signed veteran pass rusher Frank Clark to solidify their edge rushing unit. Browning is currently expected to be healthy enough to return to the field for Week 2 of the regular season.

In the draft, the Broncos did not pick until the third round because of massive trades for quarterback Russell Wilson and Sean Payton. However, that did not stop them from being aggressive in the draft.

They traded up into the end of the second round to select Oklahoma wide receiver Marvin Mims Jr. to add some speed and big-play ability to their offense. Following that trade-up, they selected Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders with their third-round selection, a player who some draft analysts had graded as a first-round pick. They then traded up again, this time back into the third round to select Iowa cornerback Riley Moss. They finished out their draft by drafting Boise State safety JL Skinner (who is listed as questionable for Week 1 against the Raiders with a pectoral injury) and Oregon offensive lineman Alex Forsyth with their final two picks of the draft.

How do these new players and coaches fit with the Broncos?

Head coach Sean Payton is the coach the Broncos needed since Gary Kubiak had to step away due to health issues. He is one of the better offensive minds in the league who will bring discipline and a winning attitude to the building.

Last season, we saw the negative effects of an inexperienced coaching staff trying out some new-age ideas. Sometimes that mindset works out, but it did not work at all with the Broncos. Payton brings a veteran coaching staff who has had plenty of success during their respective careers. They also sprinkled in some inexperience and upside with these veteran coaches which should be beneficial in the long run.

On the field, Payton will instantly improve a Broncos offense that struggled badly last season and, hopefully, get quarterback Russell Wilson back on track. Either way, we should see significant improvement from the Broncos this upcoming season because of Payton, and hopefully, we see them end their postseason drought this season as well.

The two offensive linemen the Broncos signed should help improve a unit that struggled last season. Both are coming off very good seasons for their former teams and are both maulers in the run game. The Broncos are expected to be run-heavy this season, so hopefully, we see these two open a lot of running lanes for the Broncos' backs while also keeping the pressure off quarterback Russell Wilson.

The emphasis on the run game and protection continued with the signings of Chris Manhertz and Michael Burton. These two are blocking specialists who will do the dirty work in the trenches and help the Broncos convert on short-yardage plays and at the goal line.

Veteran running back Samaje Perine provides insurance for Javonte Williams, who is coming off a multi-ligament knee injury. Williams appears ahead of schedule, but Perine still figures to have a key role on the offense regardless. He is a powerful runner who can be a weapon in the passing game as well as a pass blocker. So, we should see plenty of Perine this upcoming season, especially with Payton who likes to use multiple backs in his offense.

Defensive lineman Zach Allen will replace Dre’Mont Jones’s role on defense and hopefully, become a star for the Broncos on the defensive side of the ball. He is an ascending talent who is coming off a breakout year and should only continue to improve with the Broncos. Veteran pass rusher Frank Clark, who is one of the better postseason pass rushers of all time, will give the Broncos some depth and experience off the edge. Baron Browning is expected to be sidelined into the season due to a knee injury, so Clark should be an important piece for the Broncos defense this upcoming season, and hopefully in the postseason.

As for the draft picks, speedster Marvin Mims Jr. could be a breakout player for the Broncos. Sean Payton moved up to get him and Mims has the ability to be a deep-ball specialist for Russell Wilson, who is known for his deep throws. Mims is currently listed as questionable for Week 1 vs. the Raiders with a hamstring injury, but if he’s healthy, I would not be surprised to see him sprinkled in on offense early and often this season.

Linebacker Drew Sanders is behind veterans Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton on the defensive depth chart, but with his ability and elite athleticism, I think the Broncos will find ways to get him on the field in some capacity. As for corner Riley Moss, he likely will be a depth player who will come in on some certain sub-packages and play a key role on special teams.

Sean Payton’s hiring shifted the Broncos' odds

The huge move by the Broncos had an immediate impact on the sports betting world as well.

Prior to the news of the Broncos acquiring Payton from the New Orleans Saints, their 2024 Super Bowl odds at DraftKings Sportsbook were +4000. Shortly after the news, DraftKings shifted Denver to +2800. That’s now the ninth-best odds to win the Super Bowl.

Regardless of the odds, the new faces on this team should make this a very exciting season for Broncos fans.