Amidst the dry period of the NFL offseason, recent rumors have circulated regarding both Denver Broncos QBs Jarrett Stidham and Russell Wilson and their performances during the team's OTAs and minicamp. Weeks later, speculation surfaced around the two quarterbacks claiming that backup QB Jarrett Stidham has "outperformed" Russell Wilson and "impressed" new head coach Sean Payton.
While the account that tweeted out this "news" has absolutely no credibility and has "Jarrett Stidham Hype Man" located in their bio, it is still an interesting topic of discussion. We can start off by breaking the ice and saying this rumor is completely false. Given reports over the course of the offseason and recent news of Wilson having incredible practice sessions, it would be quite difficult for Stidham to match the level of production Wilson has achieved up to this point.
Multiple reports have surfaced this offseason of Wilson looking very clean with his mechanics and dropbacks as well as his accuracy against the defense in 7-on-7s. Head coach Sean Payton has repeatedly stated that Wilson has looked "sharp" in OTAs and minicamp and continues to look better by the week as he progresses under Payton's new offense.
Stidham, 26, signed a two-year, $10M deal with the Broncos earlier this offseason to be Denver's new backup and was considered a "priority" signing by Sean Payton and the front office to get the deal done. In previous years, Broncos fans have unfortunately grown accustomed to below-average backup QBs such as Brett Rypien, Brandon Allen, Drew Lock, etc. Therefore, it is rather refreshing to have a QB like Stidham who is still young and has shown promising flashes when given the opportunity to start against some of the elite defenses in the NFL such as the San Francisco 49ers in 2022.
On New Year's Day in Week 17, Stidham put on a clinic from all facets of the game throwing for 365 yards and three touchdowns on 68% completion. Despite two interceptions and the overtime loss, Stidham showed great promise as an upcoming QB in the league and ultimately earned himself a high-end contract for a backup QB.
As made clear by Sean Payton earlier this offseason, he truly believes in Stidham's potential and ability to step into any game when needed. Payton has spoken very highly of his IQ and ability to control the game with such a low amount of experience. Watching Stidham's presence at the line of scrimmage in the final games of the 2022 season was quite remarkable and speaks to the intelligence he provides to a QB room.
Although, while Stidham does present a high ceiling at his position, it still is very unlikely he gets much playing time at all for the Broncos in 2023, given the fact the organization still believes in the ability of Russell Wilson as the franchise's QB for the foreseeable future and onward. And in order for Wilson to prove that, he's going to need more than half of the season to string together a playoff push for the team, rather than the coaching staff giving up on him and replacing the 34-year-old with new free agent addition Jarrett Stidham.
The rumors claiming that Payton has reduced media coverage due to his internal belief that Stidham is the presumed franchise QB are completely false and are just talk at this point. Russell Wilson has looked fantastic to this point of the offseason and is going to be Denver's starting QB for some extensive time during the regular season, barring any unforeseen circumstances such as poor performance or injuries. And not to mention, teams have not had full 11-on-11 scrimmages let alone worn their pads yet as we still have not reached the final stage of the offseason. Therefore, this idea that Stidham has "outperformed" Wilson is a made-up scenario.
In 2023, Russell Wilson will be tasked with getting his team to the playoffs and performing to expectations. If he fails to do so, yes, there is a possibility that Sean Payton looks to Jarrett Stidham as a replacement late in the season if the record is not in a good spot. However, that scenario does not appear very realistic and as of now, Russell Wilson is the guy to beat.