Broncos Rumors: ESPN predicts a potential sleeper free agent to replace Russell Wilson

Denver fans may not love ESPN for this one.

Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders
Denver Broncos v Las Vegas Raiders / Ethan Miller/GettyImages
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The Broncos are in a pickle. They torpedoed their relationship with current 'franchise' QB Russell Wilson to the point of no return, and now, one year into the massive five year contract extension they gave him before the 2023 season, they're looking for a new QB1. The relationship between Wilson and head coach Sean Payton fell apart quickly, coming to a head with the public temper tantrum that Payton directed towards Wilson on the sidelines during the Broncos' 42-17 loss in Detroit, followed by the news story detailing how he tried to strongarm Wilson into dropping the pricey injury guarantees in his contract.

Now the Broncos have to decide between trying to find a bridge QB for the next couple seasons, or take a huge swing on a young franchise QB in this year's draft. So what's the move? According to ESPN's Broncos writer Jeff Legwold, Denver's going to look more towards the first option, with one specific player in mind: Colts backup Gardner Minshew.

"The Broncos would be eating a big chunk of money after cutting Wilson, and they aren't picking high enough in the draft to land one of the top three options. They'll have Jarrett Stidham in the second year of a two-year, $10 million deal, but Minshew fits Payton's offense well and has shown he can be a serviceable starter after leading the Colts to a nine-win season after Anthony Richardson (shoulder) went down. Minshew is younger than Jameis Winston and could be in Denver's price range. The Broncos will be a cap-pinched team this offseason."

It's certainly not an inspired choice, but makes sense for all the reasons that Legwold mentioned. Minshew, who is technically a Pro Bowler this year, performed admirably in Richardson's absence this year, and saw most of his stats return to career averages after a rough season in Philadelphia last year. It's hard to feel like there's a deep playoff run to be made with Minshew starting 15+ games (if even that – he's never started more than 13 games in his career) for the Broncos, whose core is in full win-now mode. But crazier things have happened, and if Payton is truly the QB whisperer that he wants everyone to think he is, maybe he can get the best out of Minshew. At the very least, the content would be good.

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