Proposed Offseason Trade Sees Broncos Land Championship Quarterback

George Paton, Sean Payton, Denver Broncos

Getty Denver Broncos General Manager George Paton and Head Coach Sean Payton.

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton believes Jarrett Stidham can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. But does he believe he can win a championship with the fifth-year former fourth-round pick?

If not, then it may behoove Payton and Co. to get aggressive to find their quarterback of the future.

The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider, acting as the Broncos’ general manager in a mock draft, does that.

“In our first mock draft, the Broncos were able to get McCarthy at No. 9 by trading No. 12, No. 76 and a 2025 fourth-round pick to the Bears,” Kosmider wrote on March 21. “With more competition this time around, Denver had to go to No. 8 and upgrade that 2025 pick to a second-rounder.”

Kosmmider’s hypothetical scenario would have the Broncos work with the Atlanta Falcons to land their quarterback of the future.

Broncos get:

– 2024 first-round pick (No. 8 overall)

Falcons get:

– 2024 first-round pick (No. 12)
– 2024 third-round pick (No. 76)
– 2025 second-round pick

Broncos general manager George Paton “touched base” with former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins before the latter signed with the Falcons in free agency, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer on March 18.

Kosmider’s colleague Josh Kendall, acting as the Falcons’ general manager for the mock draft, cited Cousins’ arrival as a key factor in trading out of the No. 8 slot.

Previous Trade Could Help Broncos Land New QB

J.J. McCarthy, Denver Broncos

GettyJJ McCarthy #QB05 of the Michigan Wolverines.

“In the end, Sean Payton gets a national champion quarterback he can build around without relinquishing a future first-rounder,” Kosmider wrote. “The two picks the Broncos acquired by trading wide receiver Jerry Jeudy … made climbing for a QB a more digestible move.

McCarthy completed 68.5% of his passes for 5,710 yards, 44 touchdowns, and nine interceptions over the last two seasons. He is the youngest of the top six quarterback prospects in this class.

He has also drawn comparisons to former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees.

“NFL evaluators have described McCarthy’s processing as “elite” in my conversations with them,” draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote on February 5. “Drew Brees was a great processer [sic], but he didn’t have the same athletic ability that McCarthy offers. This just feels like a Sean Payton pick.”

That is a lofty comparison, especially considering McCarthy averaged the fewest passes per game of the aforementioned group last season.

Broncos May Have Tipped Hand at Scouting Combine

George Paton, Denver Broncos

GettyGeneral manager George Paton of the Denver Broncos.

The Broncos have eight picks in this year’s draft. They are without their second-round pick after trading it to the Saints for Payton last offseason. And they have just two picks in the top 100 choices. Surrendering more future picks, even outside the first round, is risky.

Still, Paton confirmed plans to meet with McCarthy at the scouting combine.

Teams often meet with prospects projected to be selected outside their range in the draft just in case they slide.

But given the Broncos’ current situation, it could have been the first step toward finding a way to make McCarthy a Denver Bronco in April. Getting into position to do that still won’t be cheap. Whomever they try to trade with will know they’re moving up for a quarterback.