Could veteran QB other than Rodgers, Wilson be option for Broncos?
Jan 19, 2022, 6:24 AM | Updated: 7:14 am
(Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
For the better half of a decade, the Denver Broncos have been trying — unsuccessfully — to replace Peyton Manning under center.
Denver has attacked the issue from several different angles: drafting young quarterbacks — like Drew Lock and Paxton Lynch — signing veteran free agents — like Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum — and everything in between (see: Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and so on).
And this offseason, after yet another losing campaign, many in Broncos Country are clamoring for the like of Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson to come in and save the day.
However, that too seems improbable.
One NFC executive told ESPN that they don’t see a good reason why Rodgers would ever leave Green Bay, saying, “Why would you leave? He has everything he needs. He had beef with the front office, but the front office got him a great roster. I still don’t understand it.”
Over the weekend, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that sources say Wilson wants to explore his options this offseason and “investigate other destinations to see if those would put him in a better position to win another championship and create the legacy he sees for himself.”
Yet, Wilson said at the end of the season he always thought he’d be in Seattle, that his goal has always been to “win multiple Super Bowls” with the Seahawks.
So, if trading for Wilson and Rodgers seems unlikely, where could the Broncos turn to upgrade the quarterback position?
Perhaps general manager George Paton’s previous employer — the Minnesota Vikings — could offer some help.
Should Minnesota make Kirk Cousins available on the trade market, without eating a significant chunk of his salary, the Broncos are among a trio of teams capable of acquiring the veteran quarterback.
“The top options for a Cousins trade seem to be the Broncos, Steelers and Panthers, with a couple of other teams perhaps marginally interested,” writes The Athletic’s Chad Graff.
Cousins is in the final year of his current contract, which features a cap hit for 2022 of $45 million ($10 million of which is in bonuses). Should Minnesota move on from him without absorbing any of his salary, they’d be on the hook for the $10 million while their trade partner would take on the remaining $35 million.
Denver and Pittsburgh are likely the only teams with enough cap space to take on a contract of that size, with Carolina barely edged out. And in that scenario, a trade for Cousins would likely cost two Day 3 picks — about the same compensation Kansas City received for Alex Smith when they traded him to Washington to replace Cousins.
Should Minnesota take on a portion of Cousins’ salary in 2022, that would not only increase the value of what they ask for in return but also open the field to more suitors.
So, does it make sense for the Broncos to pay a premium in salary and avoid giving up too much draft capital for Cousins? That remains to be seen.