The 20 biggest what-ifs in Denver Broncos history

  • Blockbuster trade for Calvin Johnson?
  • Missing out on Kyle Shanahan
  • Steve Young the Denver Broncos QB?
Denver Broncos
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Everybody likes to torture themselves with a good "what-if" scenario, right? There's nothing quite like imagining alternate realities, whether good or bad, and there are plenty of potential deviations in the timeline of Denver Broncos' history that could lead us down interesting paths.

We'd better be careful or the TVA is going to be in hot pursuit, but even just off the top of my head and many others in Broncos Country, there are what-if scenarios that may keep some people up at night still today.

Throughout this post, we're going to take a trip down memory lane. Some of the memories will be painful. Some of these what-if scenarios will blow your mind. Some are simply just the result of an active imagination. Not every Denver Broncos what-if in franchise history will be covered, but these are some of the most fascinating ones to explore.

The top 20 what-ifs in Denver Broncos history

For an honorable mention (or four): 20. What if the Arizona Cardinals hired Andy Reid in 2013 like they were expected to? Reid never becomes head coach of the Chiefs, and the Broncos may not be getting tortured for 15 straight games (and counting) as they currently are in 2023.

19. What if the Broncos had pulled off a trade for Terrell Owens in 2006? 18. Or Joe Thomas in 2015? 17. What if the Broncos had been able to find a way to beat the Jaguars in the 1996 playoffs? The Broncos could have potentially gone for three Super Bowls in a row with the incredible core of players they already had in place.

Buckle up because the rest of the ride in this what-if journey is going to get nuts.

16. What if the Broncos pulled off a blockbuster deal for WR Calvin Johnson?

Raise your hand if you knew the Denver Broncos tried multiple times to pull off a blockbuster trade to acquire wide receiver Calvin Johnson before the 2007 NFL Draft. The Broncos, at the time, were just one year into the Jay Cutler era. And really, it wasn't even one year. The 2007 season was about to be Cutler's first year as the full-time starter.

According to Mike Klis, now the 9News Denver Broncos insider and formerly of The Denver Post, the Broncos made multiple attempts to pry that second-overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft away from the Lions to get Johnson in the fold:

"The first time, the Broncos proposed adding middle linebacker Al Wilson and their No. 21 overall pick as an extension to finalize a deal that sent Tatum Bell and George Foster to the Lions in exchange for Dré Bly. The second time, the Broncos offered picks in the first, second and third rounds, plus their first-round pick in 2008, for the Lions’ No. 2 selection, a trade contingent on the Oakland Raiders not taking Johnson with their No. 1 choice."

Mike Klis

What if the Denver Broncos had been able to pull that off? The team's wide receivers in 2007 would have been Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Javon Walker, and emerging young tight end Tony Scheffler.

In Mike Shanahan's offense, that would have been absolutely unfair.