The NFL trade deadline is tomorrow (October 31), and as of right now, we have no idea what the Denver Broncos are about to do. After the team's stunning win over the Kansas City Chiefs, a record of 3-5 has significantly muddied the waters. Just two weeks ago, with a record of 1-5, things seemed to be pretty straightforward -- the Broncos are obviously selling, right?
Well, not so fast. Although it took two months, the Broncos finally have a little something cooking. They have won three of their last five games, two in a row, and they just ended a 16-game losing streak to the Chiefs. They had the chance to play Kansas City twice in a matter of roughly two weeks, and a winning streak for Kansas City that spanned more than eight calendar years was snapped.
One of the big reasons for that is new head coach Sean Payton, who is implementing his program in Denver, his way of doing things, and his "culture". The first half of the season has been a bumpy ride, to say the least, and Payton has come under his share of criticism. At the same time, you can see that the Denver Broncos could be flipping the switch with a true "signature" win against the Chiefs in Week 8 and one of the best wins in the post-Peyton Manning era, period.
Even with a 3-5 record, when you win a game like we saw the Broncos do against the Chiefs on Sunday, can we say the Broncos are on their way to a massive trade heist?
Allow me to explain.
The Broncos were sellers at last year's trade deadline. Specifically, the Broncos got an offer they couldn't refuse from the Miami Dolphins for pass rusher Bradley Chubb, the 5th overall pick by the Broncos in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Dolphins offered the Broncos a trade package including a 1st-round pick, and GM George Paton couldn't pass it up. You can't help but wonder, in hindsight, if Paton knew there might be a possibility of the Broncos eventually having a shot to hire Sean Payton, and not having the draft capital to do so without a Bradley Chubb trade.
Just about midway through the 2023 season, it's looking like that trade could be an absolute heist for the Broncos, even though the Dolphins aren't complaining about their situation one bit right now (and Chubb is playing quite well).
But the pick turned out to be the 29th overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Broncos traded that selection, along with a 2024 2nd-round pick, in exchange for Sean Payton and a 2024 3rd-round pick. The Saints used the 29th pick on defensive lineman Bryan Bresee. Bresee could turn out to be a fantastic player, and we hope he does, but getting a coach the caliber of Sean Payton has given the Denver Broncos a distinct edge over many teams.
Payton is one of the best coaches in NFL history. Have the Broncos been perfect? Absolutely not, but Payton just accomplished something that hasn't been done by three straight head coaches in Denver over eight years. Beating Kansas City was such a monumental moment for the franchise right now, and Payton was able to get it done within his first season.
To get a coach like this in Denver for a first-round pick and a pick-swap? That is the definition of a "heist". Historically speaking, trading for a head coach is one of the best moves you can possibly make. Coaches that have been acquired in trades include Bill Belichick, Bruce Arians, Jon Gruden, and Mike Holmgren. The only one on that list who didn't win a Super Bowl after being traded to his new team was Holmgren, and his Seahawks made it to a Super Bowl.
Things in Denver are not peachy, by any means. A 3-5 record isn't something you're bragging about, but a win against Kansas City? Your first win against Patrick Mahomes? Not only did the Broncos end a streak of their own vs. Kansas City, but they ended a 16-game winning streak for the Chiefs over AFC West opponents in general. They handed Patrick Mahomes his first road loss in the AFC West.
This was, by many accounts, an historic moment for the franchise. Maybe not quite on par with handing Tom Brady his first playoff loss ever, but it's given the team that winning feeling. They've now proven to themselves that they can beat the Chiefs, not just get close to doing so. And who knows where that might lead?
To think, it all started with the Bradley Chubb trade a year ago, and another trade a few months later that would not have been able to happen otherwise. As time goes along, the idea of giving up the 29th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft for a coach like Sean Payton could go down as one of the best deals of all time.
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