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?

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6. What if Josh McDaniels didn’t trade Jay Cutler and the young core?

This is one of the most painful questions in Denver Broncos' history. Now, we need to preface this by saying that all is well that ends well, right? The decision to trade Jay Cutler ultimately led to the Denver Broncos drafting Tim Tebow, which led to the incredible 2011 season, which led to Peyton Manning in 2012. I don't think any of us would trade all of that.

With that being said, the idea of bringing in Josh McDaniels as the Broncos' next head coach in 2009 was only exciting because of the offensive core the team had in place in 2009. Jay Cutler looked like a star at the QB position in the making. The Broncos had a Pro Bowl receiver in Brandon Marshall. Ryan Clady looked like one of the best left tackles in the NFL as a rookie. Tony Scheffer and Eddie Royal were exciting role players.

Josh McDaniels dismantled it all. He pulled apart that foundation brick by brick. He decided to completely rebuild the Denver Broncos when all that was needed was a renovation of the defense and McDaniels bringing his offensive mastermind and scheme to that side of the ball.

He decided to take way too many creative liberties. Somewhere in an alternate reality, I like to think that things worked out great with McDaniels and Cutler, as well as the rest of that offensive core. Who knows how different the timeline would have been (no Von Miller in 2011?), but maybe the Broncos would have made the playoffs in the first couple of years of the McDaniels era and in 2011, instead of drafting Von Miller, they take future All-Pro Cam Jordan.

You can dream up anything you want -- it's a fictional world.

What's crazy is that after getting traded to the Bears, Jay Cutler only made one playoff appearance. Brandon Marshall never played in a playoff game despite putting together an incredible individual career.

Thanks, McDaniels.