Despite Trading Zach Wilson, Sean Payton Rumored to “Throw Away” Broncos’ 2024 to Secure Shedeur Sanders as Russell Wilson’s Replacement

Published 04/22/2024, 11:44 PM EDT

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Remember how Sean Payton came oh-so-close to signing Patrick Mahomes in the 2017 NFL draft? After missing that opportunity with the Saints, many believed he wouldn’t want a repeat at the Broncos. However, amid speculations that he would trade up to solve the quarterback problem in Denver, Payton brought in Zach Wilson from the Jets in exchange for a sixth-round pick. And now, NFL insider Albert Breer believes the Broncos could trade down.

“Denver has done its homework on the draft class but has other needs to address and no second-round pick. So, while Denver’s sniffed around on trading up, they’ve also made calls on moving down. The connections to Oregon’s Bo Nix have persisted,” Breer wrote. While he thinks Bo Nix may not be a first-round pick, First Things First analyst Nick Wright doesn’t think Sean Payton has any other option. But Chris Broussard begged to differ.

Considering Denver has the 12th overall pick, Wright chose Nix as their selection on his mock draft. When asked to comment on this and the fact that Wilson is on his way to the Broncos, Broussard said, “I don’t think they’re taking Nix or a quarterback now. I think they’re planning on starting Zach Wilson.” Wright seemed visibly appalled by that, but Broussard made his case, hinting at a possible Shedeur Sanders signing.


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“If I’m Sean Payton, I’m like, ‘You know who I got my eye on? 2025 – Shedeur Sanders.” Was this Broussard’s way of saying that Payton is willing to “throw away” the Broncos’ 2024 season just to land the phenom QB prospect Shedeur Sanders? Probably, because the Broncos did, after all, take the bold move of cutting Russell Wilson, despite the whopping $85 million cap hit. For the analyst, until the possible Sanders signing, “Zach is the perfect guy to be there, starting, be bad. You’ve got Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes in that division, and I don’t think Bo Nix is the answer.”

When Wright rebutted, “Sean Payton is not going to throw away the first two years of his Broncos tenure.” Per Broussard, he’s already doing it. And while Payton’s hope for a new and energized Broncos might be Shedeur Sanders, his current plan reportedly includes the Jets quarterback who tried to fill in for Aaron Rodgers – Zach Wilson. As massive responsibility loomed over the young QB, the 2023 season proved to be a disaster in terms of numbers.

USA Today via Reuters

In 34 games, Wilson had more interceptions (25) than touchdown passes (23) and completed only 57% of his passes. These stats made him the 35th out of 36 qualified passers in QBR (33.6) over his three years. Considering his run on the field, Nick Wright couldn’t hold back from calling him “objectively one of the worst quarterbacks in NFL history.” Because of this, Wright believes Wilson will only be fighting for the backup quarterback spot instead of being the main man.

Nonetheless, that was Wilson’s tenure with the Green Army, who struggled in Aaron Rodgers’ absence due to his Achilles’ tear. The team displayed a lack of management last season and seemed all over the place. Now, as Wilson might don the orange jersey, he will be under the acclaimed guidance of Sean Payton, who led the Saints to a dynamic run. From the looks of it, the experienced coach seems to have two solid plans up his sleeve.


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How will the Broncos look like with Shedeur Sanders and Zach Wilson together?

While Payton’s gamble has the football world buzzing, there’s another name that’s been on everyone’s lips lately: Shedeur Sanders. His numbers and caliber are enough to vouch for the talent he possesses. He threw for over 3,300 yards and 27 touchdowns last season alone. And get this: his jersey was the top seller among all college football fans, even though the Colorado Buffaloes went a measly 4-8.

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Beyond statistics and merchandise­ sales, he exude­s a charismatic presence. His powe­rful throwing arm, agility, and composure under pressure­ distinguish him as a potentially elite quarte­rback. However, amid the ove­rwhelming exciteme­nt, skeptics inevitably eme­rge. Some analysts question whe­ther Sanders can truly fulfill the lofty e­xpectations placed upon him and become­ the NFL’s next superstar quarterback.


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That’s where Payton’s potential bold move comes into play. By essentially tanking the Broncos’ 2024 season to secure Sanders in the draft, he’ll put all his chips on the table. It would be a calculated risk, no doubt, but one that could pay off in spades if Sanders delivers on his potential.


Written by:

Sanu Abraham


One take at a time

Sanu Abraham is an NFL writer at EssentiallySports. As a passionate football fan, he brings fresh perspectives and new ideas to the coverage of the sport and its many exciting personalities. He seeks to write lively and engaging articles that play to his expertise.
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Edited by:

Aazima Basharat