The Denver Broncos have won the 2023 NFL offseason

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

"Winning" the offseason is very subjective and does not at all guarantee success in the next season, but it's clear that the Denver Broncos have won the 2023 offseason, which is nonetheless a great thing.

The 2022 Denver Broncos were one of the most disappointing teams of the 21st century in the NFL. All of the hype around the team acquiring Russell Wilson and hiring Nathaniel Hackett was quickly dashed when it became clear how little identity the team and offense had.

It was so bad that not only did Hackett not even finish his first year as head coach, which very rarely happens, but some in Broncos Country also called for the team to cut Russell Wilson after just one season, which would have forced them to have endured a very high dead cap hit.

Anyway, that was never going to happen, but the Broncos did go into the offseason with a ton of questions. In late January, news broke that the Denver Broncos had hired Sean Payton, completing a trade with the New Orleans Saints for the future Hall of Fame coach.

Payton was the top head coaching option of this past cycle, and he interviewed with a slew of teams. Payton's prior success was leaps and bounds better than any other HC candidate and after rumors of him not being interested in Denver or working with Russell Wilson, those rumors turned out to not be true.

This was the first big win of the offseason for any NFL team, as having a good head coach in place at any level is perhaps one of the biggest advantages that any professional sports team can have. Already, going from Nathaniel Hackett to Sean Payton was clearly a significant improvment.

Then, free agency came, and I think some teams that are desperate to win will just spend wildly during this time, trying to sign some of the top free agents to quickly fill holes. In all honestly, teams that spend a ton in free agency don't typically see that kind of success in the coming season. There really is no coorelation between heavy free agency spending and related success in that following season.

You might then argue just based on my points that the Broncos may not be successful in 2023 because of their wild free agency spending, but I think they owned this period in 2023. What Denver did was genius, not only did they sign players that helped fill their most urgent needs, but they also signed players that clearly represented a concrete offensive philosophy.

Signing Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey to beef up the offensive line was stellar. Both ranked inside the top five in run block win rate in 2022. In fact, Powers was second in the NFL in run block win rate as a guard, and McGlinchey was fifth.

Denver signed two elite run blockers along the offensive line. They also signed Chris Manhertz, who is one of the best run blocking tight ends in the NFL. Samaje Perine came over in free agency as well, and Perine, while not an elite back or elite runner, brings toughness and tackle breaking to the lineup, much like Latavius Murray did.

Why would Denver focus so much on the run in 2023? Well, as many of us know, Russell Wilson's best years in the NFL came when the Seattle Seahawks had a strong, above average run game. This allowed them to utilize play-action and bootlegs in the passing game, which are two things that Wilson has done at an elite level for a decade.

What the Sean Payton trade did in Denver was set the tone for a renewed offense with a legitimate identity.

There was less noise made on the defensive side of the ball, but Denver did do well there. They signed Zach Allen, replacing the departed Dre'Mont Jones, and also re-signed Alex Singleton, who had the best year of his NFL career in 2022 with Denver.

More recently, the team signed a quality pass rusher in Frank Clark, likely signed to help soften the blow from Baron Browning's absence. Games in the NFL are won in the trenches, and Denver put a huge emphasis on that in 2023.

It's clear to me that the team won the NFL offseason.