Trades, Signings for Broncos to Help Russell Wilson Meet Expectations of New Contract
The Denver Broncos are betting on Russell Wilson to be their franchise quarterback for the foreseeable future.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Thursday the star passer has agreed to a five-year, $245 million extension that includes $165 million guaranteed. That means Wilson could remain in the Mile High City through the 2028 season.
Acquiring the nine-time Pro Bowler was a clear sign of ambition. The Broncos want to not only end a six-year playoff drought but also contend for a Super Bowl title again.
Denver opens the regular season in 11 days, so the roster is largely set. By tying Wilson down until he's 40, the front office has bought itself more time to assemble the right supporting cast around him.
Here are three moves the team could consider over the next year.
Before Week 1: Sign Ndamukong Suh
The Broncos addressed their front seven this offseason by signing Randy Gregory and D.J. Jones and selecting Oklahoma's Nik Bonitto in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft.
But the caliber of quarterback play in the AFC West means you can't have enough proven pass-rushers.
Ndamukong Suh is no longer a dominant force in the middle of the defensive line but continues to be effective in a limited role. He had six sacks in each of his last two years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 35-year-old hasn't missed a game since 2011, so he remains remarkably durable as well.
In terms of free agents, you can only hope to improve around the margins between now and Week 1. Suh would accomplish that goal for Denver.
Midseason: Trade for Roquan Smith
Pro Football Focus' Seth Galina ranked the Broncos 20th at linebacker in June. With Josey Jewell coming off a torn pectoral that limited him to two games in 2021, inside linebacker could be an area of weakness for Denver.
Enter Roquan Smith.
"The Broncos make some sense, because they're all in with the group they've built over the last couple of years, and Smith would give the team a heart-and-soul player on defense to match with Russell Wilson on offense (kind of like how Bobby Wagner was that guy in Seattle)," Breer wrote.
Smith is coming off a 2021 season in which he had 163 tackles, three sacks and one interception. He'd be an improvement over Jewell in the event the 27-year-old is unable to replicate his 2020 performance (113 tackles, two sacks).
The fact that Bradley Chubb and Smith will both hit free agency next year, though, complicates matters for the Broncos when it comes to a potential pursuit.
2023 Offseason: Aggressively Pursue a Wideout?
This is being posed as a question because somebody within Denver's receiving corps could still make a breakthrough. KJ Hamler and Jerry Jeudy are only 23, and the latter has shown flashes over the past two seasons. Courtland Sutton was a Pro Bowler in 2019 too.
As things stand, though, the Broncos lack a game-breaker at wideout, and Tim Patrick's season-ending torn ACL muddies their outlook in the short and long term.
If Jeudy or Hamler fails to take a big step forward, then general manager George Paton might have to use the same aggressive mindset at receiver that led him to land Wilson.
The options in free agency will be limited in 2023. Looking ahead to 2024 presents some candidates coming off their rookie deals who could be available in trades if this offseason is a sign of how the receiver market will unfold. Tee Higgins and Michael Pittman Jr. headline that group.
The 2023 NFL draft will be the most cost-effective and easiest route to solve the problem. Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba or USC's Jordan Addison could be available in the mid-to-late stages of Round 1.