Broncos have open window to make potentially franchise-altering trade

Should the Broncos make this kind of deal?
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Perry Knotts/GettyImages

Regardless of whether or not this is in the realm of realism, the window is open for the Denver Broncos to make a potentially franchise-altering trade before training camp in 2024. Until he's given a new contract or traded to a new team, the Denver Broncos have the chance to swoop in and give rookie quarterback Bo Nix a true star receiver and focal point of the passing game. His name is Brandon Aiyuk, one of the star receivers of the San Francisco 49ers.

The Broncos have done a lot to upgrade their wide receiver room in 2024, there's no question about it. As someone who has personally been clamoring for remodeling and upgrades to be done to that particular room, it's been a joy watching the team bring back Tim Patrick, sign Josh Reynolds, and use draft picks on both Troy Franklin and Devaughn Vele this offseason. Am I saying those moves aren't enough? No, that's not what I'm saying.

What I am saying is that the possibility of making the San Francisco 49ers an offer in a trade to acquire Brandon Aiyuk shouldn't be off the table for the Broncos regardless of the moves they've made this offseason.

Aiyuk wants a new contract, and at this point, the 49ers haven't given it to him. They also haven't traded him, so they clearly haven't gotten any offers they can't refuse up to this point. The Denver Broncos not only could make one, but they should make one.

Brandon Aiyuk could be perfect for Broncos QB Bo Nix

After the 2024 season, the Broncos will have five receivers under contract. Two of them are going to be going into their age-30 seasons (Courtland Sutton, Josh Reynolds). One of them is Devaughn Vele, who is more likely going to be on the practice squad this year than anything else. The Broncos have set themselves up to have some solid playmakers beyond this season, but nobody the caliber of Aiyuk, who is one of the biggest difference makers in the league offensively.

Aiyuk is a big-play threat, he's great after the catch, and you can run an offense through him. He would be an outstanding fit for a Sean Payton offense that likes to get the ball out quickly. Not to mention, he would be a great fit for quarterback Bo Nix, who excels at getting the ball out quickly, accurately, and on time.

The Broncos' NFL Draft capital is replenished for 2025 after three straight years without either a first or second-round pick (or both). They are projected to have over $52 million in cap space with four more years of Bo Nix on his rookie contract at the quarterback position. Even considering there would be other players that need to be re-signed, the Broncos would be in a great position financially to be able to add a new contract for Aiyuk to the books.

One common bit of pushback when ideas like this come up is that the Broncos can't afford it which is seemingly one of the most difficult misconceptions to overcome in Broncos Country. The Broncos' ownership group is the wealthiest in American pro sports. They can afford whatever they want. The sentiment likely comes as a result of the Broncos' perceived lack of salary cap space. While it's true to say the Broncos rather limited in salary cap space in 2024, new contracts can always be structured to make things work against the cap in any given year.

So trading for someone like Aiyuk and giving him a new contract would not be impossible given the structure of the deal could have an extremely low cap hit written in for year one. Teams do this constantly, and the Broncos have ultimate financial flexibility beyond this year (and especially after the 2025 season).

Aiyuk just turned 26 years old this offseason, so trading for him now and giving him a new deal could give the Denver Broncos a top-tier receiver for their young quarterback during the receiver's prime years. This would not be unlike the situation we just saw with the Buffalo Bills acquiring receiver Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings, a deal George Paton was part of while he was in Minnesota.

So what would make this a potentially franchise altering trade?

Well, the Broncos clearly believe in Bo Nix as their franchise QB. If that's the case, then you now open yourself up to making a move like this. If you've got the quarterback right, then surrounding him with elite talent like this could expedite the process of gaining "contender" status. The Broncos have been wandering around in QB purgatory for eight years and what's worse -- they mortgaged so many draft picks to get Russell Wilson on what is hopefully the back end of that stroll through purgatory. Getting a player like Brandon Aiyuk in the building can help supplement for not having those high draft choices in 2022 and 2023 at a key position.

How would the Broncos divide snaps and targets with someone like Aiyuk? That's for Sean Payton to figure out, but this kind of move would set him up extremely well for the present and future.

The Broncos could add a receiver in the trade going back to the 49ers, or they could send them a 2nd-round pick in 2025 and be done with it. Heck, the 49ers could even ask the Broncos for a conditional 2nd-round pick that could become a 1st-round pick depending on where the Broncos go this coming season.

Just because the perception of the Broncos right now is that they're not in "win now" mode doesn't mean they should avoid trades and moves like this. The chance to add a player like Tyreek Hill didn't stop the Miami Dolphins when there was a legitimate chance the franchise could have just moved on from Tua Tagovailoa. The Bills recognized the opportunity when Stefon Diggs became available.

This is a trade that could lead to offensive prosperity for the Denver Broncos. It could help change the course of the franchise immediately. It's a deal worth making. They should make it while they still can.