The Denver Broncos are seeing some of the picks they traded away in blockbuster deals over the last two years finally come to pass during the 2023 NFL Draft. Although I'm not sure the team is sitting around watching Russell Wilson's 2022 highlight reel from his first year in Denver or even Sean Payton highlights.
Those two men, however, are the reasons why the Denver Broncos were not picking at all in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The Broncos struck blockbuster trades with both the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints to build this franchise's future around Wilson and Payton.
Of course, nobody expected things to get to this point. The Broncos were supposed to be contenders in the AFC last season after acquiring Russell Wilson with head coach Nathaniel Hackett, and we all saw what happened there. Wilson had the worst season of his professional career, and Hackett was fired the day after Christmas following one of the most embarrassing performances from the Broncos in recent memory.
In order to atone for the mistake of hiring Hackett, the new ownership group in Denver sought out the best of the best and had to pay the price. They brought in former Super Bowl champion head coach Sean Payton from the New Orleans Saints to be the captain of the ship.
In total, let's take a look at what the Denver Broncos have given up -- including the picks that went off the board on Thursday night -- in the trades involving Russell Wilson and Sean Payton coming to Denver (along with a fourth-round pick in 2022, which ended up being Eyioma Uwazurike).
- DL Shelby Harris
- TE Noah Fant
- QB Drew Lock
- OT Charles Cross (2022 1st-round pick, Seahawks)
- EDGE Boye Mafe (2022 2nd-round pick, Seahawks)
- CB Devon Witherspoon (2023 1st-round pick, Seahawks)
- DL Bryan Bresee (2023 1st-round pick, Saints)
Of course, on top of all that, the Broncos had to trade EDGE Bradley Chubb in order to get the first-round pick that went to the Saints in the first place. They also have to pay up with a second-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft as well as a second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft to the Seahawks and Saints, respectively, to complete these deals.
The overall haul(s) going to the Seahawks and Saints will be ongoing into 2024, at least for the Saints, but the Broncos are almost done paying up for these two massive trades, trades that will shape the immediate future of the franchise.
The question, of course, now becomes whether or not Wilson and Payton can prove to be worth the astronomical investment.