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The Denver Broncos' quarterback question has an answer: Russell Wilson

Andrew Mason Avatar
March 8, 2022

It’s never too late.

Ten years ago, the Broncos had the chance to select Russell Wilson when he was in the draft process after a transcendent graduate-transfer season at the University of Wisconsin.

Late in the second round, they passed, taking 6-foot-7 Brock Osweiler.

By the end of the 2013 season, the Broncos felt the pain of that choice. Wilson was the perfect captain for a Legion-of-Boom-powered Seattle Seahawks team, and the Seahawks throttled the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

By the 2016 season, the Broncos felt further pain. Peyton Manning had retired. The quarterback carousel was in full spin.

Six years, five losing seasons and 11 different starting quarterbacks — including a practice-squad wide receiver — later, the carousel didn’t just come to a stop.

It exploded.

And emerging from it is Wilson, the quarterback they should have perhaps had all along, but nevertheless is in the place where it seemed years ago like he belonged — whether as a Colorado Rockies infielder after years in their farm system or as the Broncos’ leader.

Multiple reports of the Broncos’ trade for Wilson broke at midday Tuesday, barely two hours after Aaron Rodgers’ return to Green Bay on a four-year extension and restructure was announced.

The deal is massive — and there is some pain involved.

Denver surrenders two first- and two second-round picks, as well as a fifth-round choice. They will give up defensive lineman Shelby Harris, the club’s sack leader in 2021 and one of their best locker-room leaders in recent years.

Denver will surrender tight end Noah Fant, its 2019 first-round pick and one of the league’s most productive pass-catchers at the position the last two years.

Also going in the deal is quarterback Drew Lock, who would have had no future in Denver with Wilson aboard; he gets a new start with a new team.

The Broncos will receive a fourth-round pick in the deal along with Wilson.

The trade will become official at the start of the new league year, which will be at 2 p.m. MDT on March 16.

And with that, the Broncos’ six-year walk through the wilderness ended.

New head coach Nathaniel Hackett has an elite passer who comes to the Broncos with a minimal learning curve, having worked just last year in a Kubiak-Shanahan scheme similar to the one that Hackett will install.

General manager George Paton has landed his big fish, one year after a productive trip into the draft pond last year.

Broncos Country has its franchise quarterback.

The Broncos are an immediate division-title and Super Bowl contender again.

And 10 years after it could have happened, Wilson is a Bronco.

The reason why it didn’t happen?

According to then-defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, it was Wilson’s 5-foot-11 frame.

“He came through our building, and he was so impressive. Russell just wasn’t tall enough for what John [Elway] wanted,” Del Rio said on Adam Schefter’s podcast in in October 2019. “But everything else, he loved about him.

“He came in, he’s got a big hand, he’s got a strong presence. He’d look you in the eye; you could just tell — he was a man. Obviously, he was mobile. He did a lot of things that you covet — accurate, and he can throw, really a good athlete.

“He just really didn’t kind of meet that height threshold, so, a lot of people passed on him, and he’s sure making them regret that.”

But it’s never too late to make the right move, and now the Broncos are set up for another window of championship contention.


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