Option 2: Signing a FA to salvage
1. Sam Darnold
If the Broncos opt for the Free Agency route, there are a few guys who could fit the role well. In this case, there isn't a guy with more potential (especially for the money) than Sam Darnold. The former 3rd overall pick has had a career roller coaster up to this point. After struggling in New York, he soon segwayed to Carolina and started the second act of his career in the Queen City.
While he didn't light up the scoreboard as a Panther, he did finish last season 4-2 as a starter, displaying why he was worthy of being a 1st round pick. He would end up signing with the 49ers last off-season to back up Brock Purdy. in what looks to be a career on the rebound, a year with Kyle Shanahan could be what Darnold needed to complete the rehabilitation of his career. With that in mind, Darnold might be prime to compete for a starting job in 2024.
Proposal: Sign Darnold for a two-year, incentive-based deal. QB Room: Darnold, Stidham, Day 3 rookie.
In this situation, I believe that the combination of Darnold and Stidham (ideally, Darnold) could produce for Sean Payton. Again, I'm still adding a rookie to this room, but the presence of Darnold may be enough to wait until the 5th-6th round for that transaction. When coming out of USC, what was the most common player comparison for Darnold? Tony Romo. Who was the guy who discovered and developed Romo? Sean Payton.
Perhaps Darnold could be a way for Payton to finally use a player of that skill set and maximize it to new heights. Darnold is only 26 (27 in June). Do you know who else was 26 when he finally had his breakout season? Tony Romo. Sam Darnold is the proverbial "one that got away" from the Broncos back in 2018 and this off-season, maybe the time will be ripe for him to finally bring his talents to the Mile High city.