NFL GM opens door for Broncos to make polarizing trade for a new QB

Could the Broncos actually use Pat Surtain II as a trade piece to get their next QB?
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Justin Edmonds/GettyImages

When Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton was asked whether or not it was "realistic" that he could trade up in the 2024 NFL Draft for a quarterback, he emphasized that it was, indeed, a realistic idea. But would he seriously consider parting ways with star cornerback Pat Surtain II in order to make it happen?

Whether or not the Broncos could realistically trade up remains to be seen. Whether or not they would trade Pat Surtain II in order to make it happen? That would be an absolutely wild scenario, one that would send shockwaves through the rest of the 2024 NFL Draft.

In an article published by CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora reported that an NFL general manager told him the Denver Broncos "nearly traded" Surtain before last year's deadline, and only held onto him because they started to go on a winning streak.

"Surtain, meanwhile, was nearly traded ahead of the 2023 in-season deadline, another general manager told the Post, but the Broncos reportedly reversed course "when they won a few games," opting to retain the star cover man. ESPN previously reported the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers attempted to acquire the former first-round pick last fall."

CBS Sports

Regardless if it's true or not, this is a bold accusation/report about the best player on the Denver Broncos. For a current NFL general manager to say that Surtain was "nearly traded" before last year's deadline is significant. Jason La Canfora may not have the best track record when it comes to reporting insider information these days, but he's saying that an NFL general manager told him this information, which is fascinating.

The report also says that both Surtain and wide receiver Courtland Sutton have been "fixtures" in trade winds in the lead-up to the 2024 NFL Draft.

What are we supposed to make of any of all this? Maybe nothing. Rumors ahead of the NFL Draft typically all die in the "rumor" stage and rarely lead to anything substantial, but if we're going to put our tinfoil hats for the moment, the Broncos and Cardinals might be ideal trade partners if a blockbuster deal is going to be done. Why?

Broncos GM George Paton has a lengthy history with Cardinals head coach Jonathan Gannon from their time in Minnesota together. Paton has also interviewed Gannon for a head coaching position in Denver.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton has a long, long history of doing trades with the New England Patriots from his time in New Orleans, and Cardinals GM Monti Ossenfort was in the Patriots front office for many of those deals. Payton name-dropped "Monti" at the annual NFL league meetings and stated that the Cardinals' GM is in an enviable position.

Not everyone is going to like to hear it, but the Broncos paying Pat Surtain II a big-money contract would almost be an odd move given the current state of the roster. Not that you want to "rob Peter to pay Paul" but the Broncos are working themselves out of the impossible hole left by Russell Wilson. There have already been plenty of roster casualties as a result of that move and Surtain heading into his fourth season as opposed to his second or third really complicates matters.

The Broncos have to decide whether or not to pick up Surtain's fifth-year option this offseason. His value will never be higher, in all likelihood. Shortly after that, the Broncos will need to explore long-term contract negotiations with Surtain if he's not going to be traded.

Ultimately, the relationship equity between the Broncos' brain trust and the Cardinals' brain trust could be a factor in a trade-up scenario. And it makes little sense for the Broncos to continually give up future NFL Draft assets to build their roster, but they need a quarterback. Trading Surtain might be the best possible way to ensure they get the QB they want and preserve future NFL Draft capital.

It's important to take "reports" like this with a grain of salt. You never know what's real around this time of year and what's not. But the reality is, trading PS2 may be one of the Denver Broncos' most "realistic" paths to getting the QB they most covet in this draft, if that scenario involves a trade up the board.

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