Eight Moves the Broncos Need to Make After Signing Sean Payton

There it is. The Denver Broncos have found their next head coach. Adam Schefter tweeted earlier this week that Sean Payton is coming to Denver via a trade with the New Orleans Saints. The long and exhausting search is not over. While most would like to think that Payton will be a panacea for the Broncos, he is not. Now it’s time to concentrate on where else they need to improve before the start of the 2023 season. There are quite a few moves the Broncos should be making if they want to finally make the playoffs…… or at least to finally beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Here are eight moves the Broncos need to do after signing Payton.

Eight Moves the Denver Broncos Need to Make After Signing Sean Payton

1. Offensive Linemen Revamp/ Depth

The Broncos need to look long and hard this offseason at making sure they can build the best possible offensive line in 2023. The O-line play from the Broncos was putrid last season, allowing Wilson to get sacked an NFL-high 55 times. This tied with Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Even with the expanded salary cap in 2023, George Paton will have only $12 million entering the offseason in cap space to work with. Now we know the Broncos won’t have a first-round pick, as they shipped off their 2023 first-round pick to New Orleans. Paton must find inexpensive free agents or untapped talents deep in the draft to help with depth on the offensive line. 

Making sure Wilson stays upright will be key to the success of Denver. This starts with consistency on the offensive line. In 2022, a total of six linemen spent time on the injured reserve last season; Garrett Bolles, Tom Compton, Loyd Cushenberyy, Billy Turner, Dalton Risner, and Casey Turner. Without consistency or good depth to cover for injuries, the Broncos will be right back where they were in 2022. Even if All-Pro left tackle Garrett Bolles returns,  addressing the lack of consistent play from the rest of the offensive line should be a major priority in 2023. Perhaps a quick fix is bringing in a familiar face to change the culture is in order. 

2. Bring back Mike Munchak 

Mike Munchak is not only one of the greatest offensive linemen of all time but is also one of the greatest offensive line coaches ever. During Munchak’s first stint in Denver, under Vic Fangio, he was able to resurrect and save Bolles’s career. This came at a time when fans and pundits alike believed Bolle was far from saving. Turning Bolles into an All-Pro selection might be Munchak’s greatest achievement as a coach. Who better to bring in to save a fledgling offensive line? If the sole focus in the offseason is to“fix” Wilson, then making sure the offensive line is as good as it can be should be the priority. Munchak has familiarity with the franchise. So whoever the new head coach is, they should strongly consider bringing back one of the best in the business to help solidify and improve an embattled offensive line. 

3. Re-Sign Alex Singleton 

For the 2022 season, there was no bigger off-season signing than inside linebacker Alex Singleton. The former Philadelphia Eagle led the team in tackles with 163, which was a pleasant surprise. Optically, it seemed as though Singleton was in all the right places at all the right times. This caused chaos on defense and on special teams. Rarely do you see one of your starting linebackers stay on special teams, as they moved up on the depth chart. However, Singleton did just that and also became a vital part of the Broncos special teams. Singleton and Josey Jewell built a very formidable linebacking core that can be one of the best in the NFL If the Broncos bring back Singleton. 

4. Re-sign Latavius Murray

Another surprisingly great signing for the Broncos in 2022 was running back Latavious Murray. After the injury to Javonte Williams and the fumbling disaster that was Melvin Gordon, the Broncos were in dire need of a running back that could help fill the void left behind by the injured Williams and the released Gordon. Walk in, Latavius Murrray. Murray brought stability and consistency to the running back position for the Broncos and had a career renaissance at the age of 32. 

Murray became a workhorse for the team as he finished the season as the Broncos leading rusher with 703 yards and five touchdowns. That is impressive considering Murray played in only 12 games, after being signed in Week 5. This is astonishing considering a practice squad rarely delivers with this amount of impact. The Broncos must establish a consistent running game, which will help Wilson get back to form. Murray has earned the right to come back next season, not only be a compliment to a healthy Williams but to also get meaningful carries. It could be a dangerous backfield with Williams, Murray, and Chase Edmons in 2023. 

5. Keep this defense rolling 

By almost every metric, Ejiro Evero presided over one of the best defenses in the NFL in 2022. Truly, the one consistent bright spot for the Broncos. Without the defense, as we witnessed in the game versus the Los Angeles Rams, things could have gotten uglier and earlier in the season. We all heard the stat this season that if the Broncos’ offense had only scored 18 points a game, they would have finished the season 13-4. Incredible. The Broncos need to find a way to keep that defense operating at full speed in 2023, and a big piece of that would be to bring Evero back as defensive coordinator.

If Evero is not able to return next season, the Broncos must be able to find someone capable of keeping this defense rolling into 2023, as Wilson continues to figure things out. 

Denver has interviewed Every for their head coaching position, but unfortunately, so have other teams. The Indianapolis Colts have also shown interest in the skills of the first-year defensive coordinator. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Evero is gone, but keeping him in orange and blue must be considered a priority of the Walter/Penner group. 

6. Keep Drafting Well

Putting what you think of the Russell Wilson trade and how that affects George Paton’s reputation and legacy as a general manager aside, Paton’s skills as a draft evaluator can’t be questioned. The results are in the pudding. Paton even won the 2022 Best Draft Award voted on by NFL front offices and insiders, for his 2021 draft. 

Since taking over as Broncos GM, Paton has been able to find talent in those crucial middle and late rounds. Talent that contributes to the Broncos right away. Some of those names include Pat Surtain II, Javonte Williams, Quinn Meinerz, Baron Browning, and Caden Sterns. That was just in 2021. In 2022, the impact rookies were: Montrell Washington, Greg Dulcich, Nik Bonito, and Damarri Mathis. 

The Broncos will be limited in salary cap space and draft capital this year. Especially if Payton is the next head coach. Paton must continue to draft well in the middle and late rounds. He must keep that keen eye for talent in the later rounds of the 2023 draft, as they need players to play right now. 

7. Find a viable backup QB

Brett Rypien has been a serviceable backup, but if we learned anything from the 2022 season, it’s that having a plug-in backup quarterback is a necessity. Quarterbacks like Tyler Huntley, Brock Purdy, and even Chad Henne all came in and showed that having a complimentary quarterback can be the difference between missing out on the playoffs and making the conference championship game. The Broncos need to make sure they can find a quarterback like that either in free agency or deep in the draft. 

If the offensive line is not fixed or the playbook looks more like what Wilson is used to, bootleg runs, and play-action passes, combined with Wilson’s age, the possibility of injury does grow. A legitimate and complimentary backup could have the Broncos continue to roll while Wilson is out recovering. 

8. Most importantly, fix Wilson 

All of these off-season moves need to be viewed under the singular collective goal of “fixing” Wilson. Perhaps a new coach is fixed enough. Wilson played exponentially better during the last two games of the season without Nathaniel Hackett. However, the front office needs to move forward this offseason with the attitude of leaving no stone unturned. They need to make sure that every move they make is through the lens of helping Wilson return to his former self. 

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