Broncos Stay Silent in QB Free Agency Post-Russell Wilson Release

Broncos' Strategy Faces Test Amidst Free Agency Silence.

by Nouman Rasool
Broncos Stay Silent in QB Free Agency Post-Russell Wilson Release
© Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

As the first wave of NFL free agency ebbed this past week, the Denver Broncos’ foremost conundrum solidifying their quarterback lineup lingers unresolved mainly. As articulated by General Manager George Paton and Head Coach Sean Payton, the team's strategy leans towards a deliberate, calculated approach rather than the aggressive stance of yesteryear.

Paton emphasized a "strategic" methodology to address "specific positions and specific needs" across the roster rather than making grand, splashy signings. Last season saw the Broncos among the top spenders in free agency, securing three of the 11 largest contracts for non-quarterback players.

This year, however, has been markedly different, with the team's most significant moves involving high-profile exits such as quarterback Russell Wilson, safety Justin Simmons, and wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. Their signings have been modest, bringing in safety Brandon Jones and defensive end Malcolm Roach, who boast a total of 35 starts from 95 career appearances between them.

The organization has also focused on retaining its own, re-signing a number of players, including safety P.J. Locke, fullback Michael Burton, tight end Adam Trautman, and kicker Wil Lutz.

QB Dilemma Unresolved

Yet, the quarterback spot remains conspicuously unaddressed.

With a dozen quarterbacks finding new homes in the early days of free agency, Denver has remained on the sidelines, hamstrung by salary cap constraints largely due to Wilson's departure, which left them with over $67 million in charges for players no longer on the roster.

The market saw movement with quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, and Gardner Minshew signing elsewhere. At the same time, potential options like Jameis Winston, Drew Lock, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jacoby Brissett, and Sam Darnold also inked deals.

Payton, aware of the critical need at quarterback in a competitive division, underscored the urgency of finding a viable leader under center. With Jarrett Stidham potentially at the helm following Wilson's benching last season and Ben DiNucci, a practice squad member with a singular career start, signed to a futures contract, the Broncos face a challenging path forward.

The remaining free-agent quarterbacks with notable starting experience Ryan Tannehill, Carson Wentz, and Blaine Gabbert—offer limited options. Looking ahead to the draft, the Broncos possess the 12th overall pick, not an ideal position for securing a top quarterback prospect without significant trade capital, something Paton has indicated the team lacks.

This constraint may necessitate a pragmatic approach, either selecting the best available player, akin to their choice of Pat Surtain II in 2021, or trading down to accumulate additional picks. Despite the challenges, Payton remains optimistic about the team's direction, emphasizing the importance of intelligence, quick decision-making, and accuracy in a quarterback prospect.

The Broncos, he believes, are well-equipped to navigate these decisions, suggesting a confidence in their ability to eventually secure the franchise’s quarterback of the future.

Broncos Russell Wilson