BRONCOS

Call off the Sean Payton backup-QB reunions: Broncos sign ex-Raider to be No. 2 QB

Mar 13, 2023, 11:34 AM

Jameis Winston? Teddy Bridgewater?

The Broncos’ backup quarterback won’t be either of those two — but it will be a quarterback who ended the season as the Las Vegas Raiders’ starter.

Jarrett Stidham will be the Broncos’ backup quarterback. The deal, first reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, will pay Stidham $10 million over two years, including $5 million guaranteed.

That should make Stidham one of the NFL’s higher-paid backup quarterbacks. According to OvertheCap.com, the average annual value of Stidham’s contract — $5 million — would rank 27th among current quarterback contracts.

Stidham started the final two games of the 2022 season for the Raiders last year, replacing Derek Carr. Las Vegas lost both games — to San Francisco and Kansas City — but Stidham was solid, delivering the best work of his career to date. He posted a 91.6 passer rating in those two games, completing 64.3 percent of his passes with 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Denver added Stidham just hours after news broke that the team would not bring back Brett Rypien. The Broncos could have brought Rypien back on a restricted-free-agent tender at just over half of the cost for this season.

One intriguing aspect to the Stidham addition is that he has some upside. His play with Las Vegas demonstrated growth from his brief work in New England. So, if the Broncos can’t restore Wilson to his former level, Stidham could conceivably be a bridge quarterback — or, could even get a chance to be the long-term answer.

But for the moment, Stidham will be the understudy, getting a chance to continue the growth he demonstrated with Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas last year.

And Stidham’s 77.9 ESPN QBR in Week 17 against the 49ers last year was higher than the QBR of any Broncos quarterback for a single game in 2022. So, there could be something there into which Payton wants to tap.

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