Many Denver Broncos fans may not want to hear this, but there's a very realistic chance the team could wind up adding Jimmy Garoppolo to the quarterback room in 2024, after they decide to ultimately move on from Russell Wilson.
Garoppolo has a pretty terrible reputation in Broncos Country for some reason, perhaps because there was, at some point, the threat of the team potentially acquiring him. Many fans have hated even the idea of Garoppolo coming to the Mile High City as anything but a visitor, but I think with Sean Payton making all of the final personnel decisions, there's a strong chance we will see Garoppolo in orange and blue at some point in 2024.
Garoppolo just recently turned 32 years old and is coming off of a pretty forgettable year with the Las Vegas Raiders. Let's just call it what it is. But as a player, Garoppolo has historically thrived within a certain structure and he has traits about him that have been previously called out by Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton.
Don't blame the messenger for this one...
Now, can opinions on guys change over the course of four or five years? Absolutely they can. But I also think Garoppolo is a solid fit for what Sean Payton wants at the QB position -- someone who excels at throwing on target and on time, playing within the structure of the offense but also making plays when the pocket breaks down, and ultimately setting up receivers for success after the catch.
Jimmy Garoppolo has played in a lot of big games, to Payton's point back in 2019, and the fact that he and Payton share an agent is a massive advantage in his favor.
Another advantage for Garoppolo is that he and Payton are alumni of the same university -- Eastern Illinois. That university also happens to be the same one that produced Denver Broncos Ring of Fame head coach Mike Shanahan.
As another piece of trivia for you, it's also the university that produced Tony Romo, a player Sean Payton signed when he was the offensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys once upon a time. I think the Eastern Illinois connection is meaningful to Payton at least to some degree, and signing Garoppolo to play for him in Denver would almost be like the final "infinity stone" in his Eastern Illinois gauntlet.
Before Payton signed Drew Brees in New Orleans, he wanted to trade for Tony Romo when he wasn't yet a known commodity. The Cowboys wouldn't do it.
I think those kinds of things do matter to Payton, and he believes strongly in his scouting reports, especially of quarterbacks. Now, maybe he would take a look at Jimmy Garoppolo in 2023 and say, "You know what? Let's not."
I don't think that's going to be the case.
Anytime this idea gets brought up on Twitter, fans are quick to point out that the Broncos wouldn't be able to "afford" Garoppolo due to their lack of cap space after potentially cutting Russell Wilson. To which I would say a couple of things:
- If a player and team are motivated to get something done, they figure it out
- The salary cap in today's NFL is more and more of a myth
I say the second point a little tongue in cheek -- the salary cap does matter, but Sean Payton has consistently proven that he will do what it takes to manipulate the salary cap and kick the proverbial can down the road to make deals happen.
Remember a couple of years ago when the New Orleans Saints magically went from being about $90 million in the red to having a plethora of cap space?
Not only that, but if Jimmy Garoppolo is cut by the Raiders this offseason, he's already getting $11.25 million from Vegas, so he could sign a cheaper deal with Denver to facilitate their salary cap situation.
Sean Payton has historically really liked Jimmy Garoppolo. The two of them share an agent. They share a bond as Eastern Illinois alumni. Payton has a pretty longstanding familiarity with Garoppolo and his game. Garoppolo could be the ideal competition for Jarrett Stidham and potential bridge for a rookie in 2024.
Let's face it -- there's a very realistic chance that this actually could end up happening. Broncos Country might not like it. They might not want it. But the dots are all there to connect.