The biggest trade in Broncos franchise history will prove futile in challenging the Chiefs, nor the Chargers or Raiders, for AFC West supremacy.
This, the judgment of an anonymous NFL executive who claimed Denver is still seen as a divisional basement-dweller despite its bombshell acquisition of quarterback Russell Wilson.
“It seems like they are being hailed for a move when the reality is, they didn’t want Wilson, they wanted Aaron Rodgers,” the exec told Mike Sando of The Athletic earlier this month. “Let’s face it, if they get Rodgers, they’re the No. 1 team in that division. Instead, they are being looked at as possibly the third-, maybe even the fourth-best team in that division. And I like Wilson. I think he can still play. But there is a big difference between what Denver wanted and what Denver got. ”
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Not so fast.
Although the Broncos hired Rodgers’ former Packers offensive coordinator and QB coach – new head coach Nathaniel Hackett and OC Justin Outten – the club’s interest in the 38-year-old was significantly overstated. Per NBC Sports’ Peter King, Denver “never engaged” Green Bay about Rodgers, who instead became the league’s highest-paid signal-caller at over $ 50 million annually.
“[Broncos general manager George Paton] was all-in on Wilson (five years younger than Rodgers, likely to play six or seven more years at least) all along, “King reported in March.
But big-brained prognosticators aren’t letting simple facts get in the way. Take, for example, another exec whom Sando queried regarding Denver’s less-than-lethal supporting cast. (Their words.)
“Careful what you wish for, Russell,” the exec cautioned. “Who takes the top off the coverage in Denver with their long-stride speed? Tim Patrick was a special teams player who made himself into a receiver. Courtland Sutton doesn’t run quite the same after his injury, at least from what I saw. Jerry Jeudy is small-bodied. ”
The answer to that question is WR KJ Hamler and his 4.27 speed.
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“To see him in the preseason game track-down balls has been cool to watch,” Wilson said of Hamler’s 80-yard touchdown against the Vikings last August.
“Wilson is a good player, and the offense he is about to play in is going to be really good for him,” an exec told Sando, “but he needs a run game, he needs a defense. Everybody keeps talking about all this defensive talent on Denver, but Vic Fangio isn’t walking through that door. They signed Randy Gregory, who just had shoulder surgery and has been a part-time player. They are not elite defensively, so I think more falls on the quarterback. ”
Wilson will have a run game, led by established RB1 Javonte Williams. He will have a defense, the same unit that ranked third in points allowed and eighth in total yards last season.
He also has a plenty of motivation to make believers out of his haters, of which there are many.
“It feels like people are underselling Wilson a little bit based off some of the injuries and how it has gone between him and Seattle management over the last couple of years,” another exec told Sando. “Fresh start, there is going to be a bump there in terms of what he brings to the table and what he has from a play standpoint. I think it’s going to be really good for him. “
That sound you hear are thumbtacks being inserted into the ever-expanding bulletin board at Dove Valley headquarters.
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