Broncos HC Sean Payton Prepared To “Mortgage Future” To Trade Up For QB?

Broncos GM George Paton recently conceded that he would be prepared to part with future first-round draft picks to trade up from the No. 12 overall selection in this year’s draft if such a move allows him to select a franchise quarterback. We have also heard that while head coach Sean Payton is naturally interested in a trade-up for a QB, the club may ultimately choose to trade down to accumulate more assets; after all, thanks to the trades bringing Russell Wilson and Payton to Denver, the Broncos have not made a first-round selection since 2021 and do not have a second-round choice this year.

Tony Pauline of, however, hears that Payton is not merely willing to contemplate a move up the board. The former Super Bowl-winning HC — who narrowly missed out on drafting Patrick Mahomes in 2017 when the Chiefs moved up 17 spots to leapfrog the Payton-led Saints to land the future star — is reportedly prepared to “mortgage the franchise’s future” to acquire one of the top passer prospects in the 2024 class.

The near miss on Mahomes has, according to Pauline’s sources, left a sour taste in Payton’s mouth, and he is looking to right past wrongs. Given that the teams holding the top three selections in this year’s draft have the need to add blue chip signal-callers of their own, the Cardinals’ No. 4 overall choice is perhaps the highest pick the Broncos could theoretically acquire. Arizona is certainly open for business, but it is unclear just how far down the board the team would be willing to go, and the same can be said of the Chargers, who hold the No. 5 pick and who may not want to give a division rival the opportunity to draft a franchise QB.

It is certainly possible that Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye will be taken with the first three picks of the draft and will therefore be unavailable for the Broncos. Per Pauline, that would suit Payton just fine, as he is said to have his eyes set on Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. McCarthy’s blend of intelligence and ability to get the ball out of his hands quickly is particularly appealing to Payton, perhaps because it reminds him so much of longtime charge Drew Brees.

Of course, this is hardly the first time that the Broncos have been rumored to be interested in trading up for a quarterback. All of the earlier reports to that effect have noted how costly such an endeavor would be, and Pauline acknowledges that Denver’s package would need to include at least one future first-rounder, the No. 12 pick this year, and cornerback Patrick Surtain II. Pauline himself said back in February that the heavy cost of jumping up the draft board would likely preclude the Broncos from doing so, and that the team would only deal Surtain as a last resort.

It seems that much has changed in the past couple of months, with Payton now prepared to do whatever it takes to nab a prospect like McCarthy. We learned just last week that the Broncos may be more receptive to the notion of trading Surtain than they were at last season’s trade deadline, and Pauline’s report is consistent with that line of thinking.

If Denver is ultimately unable to jump up the board, Payton & Co. would content themselves with Oregon’s Bo Nix as Plan B. A recent projection suggested that the Ravens, who hold the No. 30 overall pick, may be willing to deal that selection to the Broncos, who would use it to select Nix. A subsequent report indicated that Baltimore is not, in fact, looking to move out of the first round, though the right offer can of course change draft plans in a hurry.

Only a small percentage of Pauline’s sources believe the Broncos would select Nix with their No. 12 choice. That stands to reason in light of a recent report from Ari Meirov of, who hears from league executives that Nix is more of a Day 2 prospect.

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