Peyton Manning Expects ‘Great Competition’ Among Current Broncos QBs

Getty QB Peyton Manning played for the Denver Broncos from 2012 to 2015

The Denver Broncos quarterback room isn’t getting much love from NFL analysts. ESPN senior NFL writer Mike Clay gave the unit an 0.5, the fourth-worst grade for the position heading into the 2024 season. Meanwhile, Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema ranked the Broncos with the worst starting QB, even if there’s no definite option yet.

Amid the alarming views, Pro Football Hall of Famer Peyton Manning offers optimism for the Broncos’ QB1 battle, seeing potential for growth and improvement.

“It sounds like they have great competition over there. That’s always good and makes everybody better. So, I think the quarterback position is in good shape, and I think Sean’s (Payton) system is extremely quarterback-friendly,” Manning said before receiving the 2024 Mizel Institute Community Enrichment Award, as the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson wrote on May 22.

After releasing Ben DiNucci on May 8, Bo Nix, Jarrett Stidham, and Zach Wilson are set to compete fiercely for the starting role in Payton’s second season with the Broncos. Each with their unique journey, Payton has a collective term for the trio, adding an element of intrigue to the battle.

“They’re all orphan dogs. They’ve all come from somewhere,” Payton said, as CBS News Colorado sports anchor/reporter Romi Bean tweeted on May 24.

The mandatory minicamp and training camp will determine who should start in Week 1. However, Manning is excited about how the competition will positively impact Wilson. “It’s a great system to play in, and sometimes guys just need a reboot. … I’m pulling for (Wilson) in this second chapter,” the Super Bowl 50 champion quarterback with the Broncos said.

Broncos QBs Share Their Mindset for the Upcoming Competition

GettyBroncos QB Jarrett Stidham made four starts in five NFL seasons

Stidham isn’t keen on relinquishing the starting role without a fight after taking over for Russell Wilson in Weeks 17 and 18 last year.

“This is a business. I understand how this thing goes. But it’s been fun to compete, and that’s what we’re going to do. I’m not just going to sit down and let somebody else walk on in here, and – I mean, I’m going to compete my butt off to get the job. So, super excited about it,” the 2019 fourth-round pick told reporters after their May 23 OTAs.

Competing for the starting quarterback role is a recurring plot throughout Stidham’s NFL career. In three seasons with the New England Patriots, he was either the second or third-string quarterback behind Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer, and Mac Jones. He was also Derek Carr’s backup for 16 games during his lone season with the Las Vegas Raiders (2022).

Meanwhile, the second-overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft feels bittersweet about his transition from the New York Jets to the Broncos. “I was grateful for my experiences there and the guys. Miss the guys out there and everything too. But, at the same time, fresh starts are good. And I’m excited to attack the new challenge,” Zach Wilson told media members after Denver’s May 23 OTAs.

The former Brigham Young University standout has much to prove after the Broncos declined his fifth-year option, making him a free agent after the 2024 season.

Finally, Nix isn’t taking the opportunity bestowed upon him by the three-time Super Bowl champions, even if he was selected 12th overall in the 2024 draft.

“I get to wear a Broncos jersey, get out there, and do what so many greats have done before me. So, I don’t take that lightly, and I know I’m not going to take it for granted. But you know, pressure gives you opportunities. So, I think the more pressure and responsibility you have, the more you have to go out there and consistently earn it,” Nix told reporters after the May 12 rookie minicamp.

Betting Odds Paint Contrasting Scenarios for Broncos Week 1 Starting QB

GettyQB Bo Nix at Broncos Rookie Minicamp

As BetColorado’s Christopher Boan wrote on May 1, Stidham had the best odds to be Denver’s Week 1 starting QB at -105. Nix is at +135, and Wilson got +1750.

Conversely, as of May 27, DraftKings Sportsbook has Nix as the favored quarterback to play the Broncos’ first offensive snap in Week 1 at -425. Stidham is at +450, while Wilson is at a distant +1000.

Sportsbooks depict the Broncos’ starting quarterback competition as a two-horse race between two former Auburn standouts and Manning Passing Academy alums. But as Manning said, Payton’s influence could make Wilson a sleeper pick in the wide-open contest.

Read More