4 Broncos who can't afford to have a down year in 2023

Arizona Cardinals v Denver Broncos
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The Denver Broncos have been a team on the decline for several seasons now but new head coach Sean Payton has been brought in to change the culture and restore a winning attitude to a once proud franchise.

Payton has been given the keys to the kingdom and he has a ton of influence on how this team is going to look going forward. The recent decision to release kicker Brandon McManus is evidence that he is not going to shy away from tough moves.

Payton will play the guys that give him the best chance to win regardless of how much money they make or what round they were drafted in. He has been around the league for a long time and knows what it takes to win.

With that in mind, who are some players who can ill afford to have a bad season? Here are four options.

Broncos who can't afford to have a down year in 2023: Garett Bolles

Denver Broncos, Garett Bolles
Jan 2, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (97) attempts / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Garett Bolles still has two years remaining on his current deal but he has had an up-and-down career with the team since being selected in the first round of the 2017 draft.

He is coming off of a broken leg that forced him to miss much of the 2022 season and while he is still clearly the starting left tackle for this team, Payton and the rest of the front office could decide to search for a better answer if Bolles gets hurt again or struggles this coming season.

Bolles got off to a rough start in his career, due in large part to all of the holding penalties he drew during his first three seasons in the league. Following the 2019 season, the team chose not to pick up his fifth-year option and it looked like Bolles could soon be on his way out.

But he stepped up in a big way in 2020 and played so well that the team chose to reward him with a four-year, $68 million extension.

Bolles needs a strong season as he missed all but five games last season and is now 30 years old. The Broncos may already have initiated plans to find a long-term answer at left tackle and poor play for Bolles would only speed that process up.