What are the Denver Broncos’ options for a quarterback this offseason?

ENGLEWOOD (Colo.) — The Denver Broncos’ sixth consecutive postseason loss is officially over. However, there are still many questions that remain.

This question begins with “who” but ends with “quarterback”.

As George Paton approaches the end of his first year as general manager, it is not clear publicly where he stands on the future and present of the Broncos’ quarterback. The two most important statements he made about the issue this year were only three months apart.

Paton described the pursuit for a quarterback in this way on Aug. 12 as he stood outside the building where he used work as the Minnesota Vikings’ assistant GM.

“I have said before that the quarterback position is the most crucial position in sports.”

Paton made the following statement about the Broncos offseason plan on Nov. 2, after Von Miller, the franchise’s all-time leader in sacks, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams.

“We have all the resources we need to do what we want. We’re going forward to have lots of cap space and cash. We have 11 draft picks so we have lots of flexibility. I never talk about flexibility but we have it.”

Paton will likely be asked the same question again as he discusses the future and reveals the fates of the coaching staff. When you combine “most importantly” with “whatever is possible,” it opens up many possibilities for the search for the 11th starting quarterback since 2016.

Get the quarterback bingo cards out, it’s a great time to highlight his options.

Blockbuster trade

The nuts and boltsIf you poll the ticket buyers, it is clear that a blockbuster trade is the most preferred choice. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the most wanted name, as well as Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback.

Denver would likely need multiple first-round picks to get this thing moving. It is likely that the Broncos will draft between Nos. The Broncos will likely draft between Nos. 10-14 in the 2022 first round. This is the most important round in any deal.

Future first-round picks could have lower value since Rodgers is expected to make his new team even better if Rodgers doesn’t retire. In order to make an offer that is good enough to start the conversation, the Broncos may have to move up to the draft board in 2022.

Wilson is facing a similar issue, but Wilson has a no trade clause in his contract that could be waived. He will be concerned about the team’s future prospects, draft capital, and ability to improve its roster. Wilson has two years remaining on his Seattle contract, with a salary-cap figure of $37 million 2022 and $40M 2023.

Largest hurdle: Prime draft capital. To acquire Matthew Stafford, the Rams sent Jared Goff, their starting quarterback, to the Detroit Lions along with two first-round picks and a third round pick.

Wilson and Rodgers rank higher than Stafford. Paton has stated publicly that he wants to acquire more picks than fewer. It’s unclear how he would approach a deal which could result in the team losing two or three first-round picks.

Develop and draft

The nuts and boltsPeyton Manning signed in 2012 with the Broncos. Since then, six quarterbacks have been selected by the Broncos, three of them among the top 60 — Brock Osweiler (57th), Paxton Lynch (26) and Drew Lock (42).

If one of them was the long-term solution, Paton and John Elway would not have to answer the question about the quarterback.

This option would require patience.

Largest hurdle: Paton visited many of the top 2022 draft prospects personally and will again do so in the next few weeks. However, the league’s personnel executives have already reported that this class of quarterbacks isn’t as good as 2021, and these players have almost all struggled to become rookies, except for Mac Jones, the Patriots, and, at the very least, Davis Mills, the Texans.

There aren’t many chances that the Broncos will get immediate quarterback help, especially if they draft a rookie who can power a playoff push. A draft pick would need to be paired with an unsigned free agent and a long-game approach, especially if it was in the first round.

This brings us to…

You can do it again — in free agency

The nuts and boltsThe Broncos signed Teddy Bridgewater last offseason. He did solve one of their biggest problems starting in 2020. At least, before a concussion against Cincinnati Bengals that kept him out the past two games. He has largely solved the Broncos turnover issues last season, which saw them last in league giveaways.

However, the Broncos’ offensive disaster, especially down the stretch where the defense tied for second in league points allowed to Los Angeles’ loss, doesn’t exclude Drew Lock and Bridgewater.

Bridgewater is still an excellent option among potential free agents at quarterback. If Rodgers or Wilson make it to trade market, then the cost to acquire their services may rise a bit from the high level expected. Mitchell Trubisky and Jameis Winston are the only notable free agents in the position that are younger than 29 years.

The Broncos may be able to combine a player over 30 with a premium draft choice. That means finding the right veteran that would help a young player develop as a quarterback.

It’s possible it’s just something Paton has to put away. However, he was asked last spring if Bridgewater was a veteran quarterback who could do this. Paton replied that Bridgewater was exactly the type of veteran football quarterback.

Largest hurdle:It’s not the instant, no-questions asked help many want to see. This is especially true for the growing number of people who believed Rodgers would trade to the Broncos last spring. The Broncos could make major changes to the offensive or coaching staff. This is similar to what the Broncos did each time Manning was fired.