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
Denver Broncos / Doug Pensinger/GettyImages
4 of 16

13. What if Colin Kaepernick agreed to a pay cut or Romo chose Broncos/TV

There was a time in Denver Broncos' history when Colin Kaepernick and Tony Romo were nearly the team's starting quarterbacks.

Back in 2016, the Denver Broncos had just won the Super Bowl and were dealing with the aftermath. Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset, which was expected. The Broncos lost Brock Osweiler rather unexpectedly in free agency, however, causing John Elway to have to shift his plans at the position. The first option seemed to be Colin Kaepernick, who was coming off of a down year in San Francisco and very available for trade.

The Broncos and 49ers had actually agreed on the parameters of a deal, but the issue was a few million dollars on Kaepernick's contract. The Broncos couldn't afford to give it to him on their salary cap. The 49ers weren't paying that much, and apparently, the Broncos weren't going to up their trade offer to get them to pay it. Kaepernick wasn't taking a pay cut.

What looked like a done deal turned into a deal that never happened. Kaepernick could have taken over a team that had just won the Super Bowl and his career arc may have been much different, but we'll never know.

The very next offseason, the Dallas Cowboys were apparently shopping Tony Romo very quietly. Romo was nearly released, and at the last second, Dallas decided to hold onto him. That may have only prolonged the false hope of anyone in Broncos Country that wanted to see Romo come to Denver, where he would have certainly been an upgrade over Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian.

No offense to the Siemian stans out there. Romo ultimately decided to retire from playing and get into the TV booth. That has turned out to be a very lucrative deal for him. But the Broncos, coming off of a nine-win season in 2016 were hoping to stay in some sort of championship window in 2017 and that obviously didn't happen as they had a horrendous year overall.

Fun fact: Romo was nearly signed out of college by the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent. The Cowboys obviously beat them to the punch, but it ended up being a battle between Mike Shanahan and Sean Payton to sign Romo out of Eastern Illinois, two Eastern Illinois alumni themselves.