Record-Setting QB Heads for CFL After Broncos Minicamp Tryout

Sean Payton, Denver Broncos

Getty Head Coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos.

The Denver Broncos have remade their quarterback room. After cutting Russell Wilson, Denver added Zach Wilson via trade with the New York Jets and selected Bo Nix with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2024 draft to compete with incumbent QB Jarrett Stidham.

However, they also invited Colorado School of Mines quarterback John Matocha to rookie minicamp. Matocha enjoyed a record-setting collegiate career.

The Broncos didn’t sign any of their tryout players, though. So Matocha will now join the CFL.

“Per source, former Colorado School of Mines standout QB John Matocha is signing with CFL’s Toronto Argonauts on Tuesday,” 9News’ Mike Klis posted on X on May 27. “He had a three-day tryout with Broncos earlier this month.”

Matocha is undersized, listed at 5-foot-11. But he was the 2023 runner-up for the Harlon Hill Award, given to the Division II Player of the Year.

He captured the award the year before, throwing for 4,778 yards and 52 touchdowns.

Matocha finished his record-setting collegiate career with nearly 2,000 yards and another 28 scores on the ground and was a three-time Academic All-American. He heads to the Argonauts, whose preseason begins on May 31.

The Argonauts finished last season with a CFL-leading 16-2 record, losing in the Grey Cup to the Montreal Alouettes.

John Matocha Joins Former Broncos QB in CFL

Chad Kelly, Toronto Argonauts

GettyChad Kelly #12 of the Toronto Argonauts.

Matocha is not the only Broncos quarterback on the Argonauts roster. He joins former Broncos seventh-round pick Chad Kelly, who made one appearance during the 2018 season for his only regular season action.

Kelly is in his second season with Toronto and was the Argos’ leading passer last season. He completed 68.5% of his passes for 4,123 yards and 23 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.

But Kelly has battled off-field issues since college and is back in hot water this offseason.

“Toronto Argonauts quarterback Chad Kelly has been suspended for 2024’s preseason games and a minimum of nine further games for violating the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) Gender-based Violence Policy. Mr. Kelly will be required to undergo confidential assessments by an independent expert and attend mandatory counselling sessions conducted by a gender-based violence expert,” the CFL announced on May 7.

“The decision is the result of a thorough third-party investigation into allegations made against Mr. Kelly.”

Matocha is joining the Argonauts late in their process before the 2024 season and will have to earn his keep behind veterans in incumbent Cameron Dukes and newcomers Bryan Scott and Nick Arbuckle.

Insider Explains Sean Payton’s ‘Orphaned Dogs’ Comments

Sean Payton, Denver Broncos

GettyHead coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos.

Head Coach Sean Payton garnered attention when he referred to the Broncos’ QBs as “orphan dogs” following OTAs. The head coach said he was referring to Nix, Stidham, and Wilson coming from other places. Matocha is doing the same with Toronto.

But NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport believes there is more to it than that.

“Sean Payton doesn’t do anything by accident,” Rapoport said on “The Insiders” on May 24. “The fact that he called these guys orphaned dogs – which is certainly something that didn’t just pop into his head during the press conference – seems to me like tone setting. Right? One of the best coaches around, as far as building a culture and getting guys in the locker room to belive. That’s what this quarterback room really is. It’s a couple guys that not everybody wanted.

Sean Payton is clearly tweaking them a little bit. Being like, ‘This is what everyone thinks of you. Just so you guys know.’”