Why the Broncos have the most promising outlook for the future of the AFC West

Sean Payton has officially set the Broncos up for success in the near future that opposing AFC West teams currently don't have the luxury of.
Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton has quietly taken an impossible situation and turned it into one of the most promising situations in the current makeup of the NFL. Selecting Bo Nix as his quarterback will allow him at minimum four or five years to build out this roster with the money that, under normal circumstances, ends up going to the quarterback position anyway. 

The model for winning appears to be surrounding a top-level quarterback with as many weapons and protection as possible. Two ways to accomplish this come in the form of cap space and the draft. General Manager George Paton has made room for around $100 million in cap space for 2025 and onward. The modern game is filled with young teams who have built from the draft and added the "over the top" players from free agency. Coach Payton appears to be doing just that with the acquisition of defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers combined with Jonah Elliss from the draft in round three. Protecting your quarterback but also getting to the opposing quarterback is key. A rule as old as time one may say.

However, entering his second season as the Head Coach for the Denver Broncos, the 2024 draft was the first time he had a first-round selection. We've seen how valuable these selections can be. The 2023 Texans draft ended up having both the offensive and defensive rookies of the year. First-round picks have always been worth their weight in gold as long as you hit on the right players, which, Payton has had a pretty good eye for in the past.

That being the case, when Denver lost multiple first-round picks in a deal for a player who is no longer on the roster, it can set you back considerably. So, by taking Nix, he's attached his legacy to a rookie arm that some thought seemed to be a reach at #12. However, Payton has noted that he feels as strongly about this selection as he did when he nearly drafted Patrick Mahomes back in 2017. 

So, if we are gauging the outlook of the rest of the AFC West, there's only one team that currently stands to be better for some time and that's the Kansas City Chiefs. However, that isn't earth-shattering news. They're the undisputed best team in the league because Patrick Mahomes is one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. 

There's only one other team that is just starting its regime with a rookie arm who doesn't need to be paid handsomely for a while. That's the Broncos. Yes, the Chargers signed Jim Harbaugh and still have Justin Herbert. Yes, the Raiders added Christian Wilkins, one of the best defensive linemen in the game. But, the Chargers are paying Herbert a lot of money that exposed their roster this off-season when they had to let go of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler. The Raiders continue to have questions about their quarterback position as well given they signed Garder Minshew to compete with Aiden O'Connell while completely ditching the position together in the 2024 draft. 


Both George Paton and Sean Payton have found ways to maneuver through the Wilson fiasco. Selecting Bo Nix and restructuring the roster will soon allow Denver the freedom to spend the money elsewhere to build around Nix's game. So, as long as the rookie quarterback lives up to the hype and does his part, Payton and his crew will eventually be back in the limelight of winning games and staking their claims.