Sean Payton may have to put his money where his mouth is

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton may actually have to roll out Jarrett Stidham as a Week 1 starter

Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Candice Ward/GettyImages

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton has put the pressure on himself to get the quarterback position right in Denver, and Broncos Country seems split (at best) over whether or not they're excited about that. After watching just about every possible trade and free agent option land elsewhere already this offseason, it's clear that the Broncos are heading into the 2024 NFL Draft with one thing in mind:

They're okay with Jarrett Stidham possibly being the Week 1 starter.

Last March, here's what Sean Payton said about the signing of Stidham:

"I think he’s a No. 2 whose arrow is moving in a direction where we feel like he can become an NFL starter in our league. The evaluation was pretty crystal clear for all of us. I think he's someone that's going to be great in the room. He's smart. Quietly, that was an important sign for us."

Sean Payton (via Broncos PR)

It's clear that Sean Payton and the rest of his brain trust felt like Jarrett Stidham was on the type of trajectory to become a starter in the NFL. He said it right there. Payton is already putting his money where his mouth is by passing on pretty much every possible available quarterback worth having in the 2024 offseason.

The Broncos didn't dip into free agency or the trade market after releasing Russell Wilson, and they seem like they are genuinely comfortable going into the 2024 NFL Draft knowing that no matter what happens, they're comfortable rolling with Stidham at the beginning of the 2024 season.

Stidham has started four games in his four-year NFL career. Each of those four starts has come in the last two seasons with the Broncos and Raiders. Stidham has shown some nice flashes in his opportunities, but nothing that would really make anyone think that he's got legitimate QB1 chops, at least not over any sort of long haul.

The pressure for the Broncos to get the QB position right in the 2024 NFL Draft has risen substantially with the team's lack of involvement in free agency or trades. It's been refreshing to see the team sit out on veteran quarterbacks who don't offer anything in the short or long term. At least the thinking with Stidham is that you might have something there. Even if he only proves to be a high-end QB2, the juice is worth the squeeze and it's worth at least trying to develop a young guy you believe in.

The way the Broncos have approached this offseason gives us a couple of clear indicators, although these are assumptions.

1. They are pleased with Stidham's development and what he offers as a starter in 2024.

2. They are confident they are getting who they like in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Given the team's lack of involvement on the quarterback market, I wouldn't even be surprised if the Broncos like multiple quarterbacks in this year's draft. And in their current context, it would make sense to take two.

But even with the NFL Draft looming, it wouldn't be a shocker to see Jarrett Stidham as the team's Week 1 starting quarterback, meaning Sean Payton could soon have to put his money where his mouth is.