Jarrett Stidham will replace Brett Rypien as Russell Wilson‘s Broncos backup, agreeing to a two-year, $10MM deal. While Stidham has fewer career starts than Rypien, his late-season Raiders cameo — particularly a 365-yard, three-touchdown performance against the 49ers’ No. 1-ranked defense — generated a market for the former Patriots fourth-round pick. Stidham chose the Broncos over the Raiders because of Las Vegas’ Jimmy Garoppolo signing and potential to also add a quarterback in the first round, per NBC Sports’ Peter King. From the Broncos’ perspective, Sean Payton views Stidham as an upward-trending option behind Wilson.
“There were a handful of No. 2s that either I have worked with, or we felt comfortable with,” Payton said, via the Denver Gazette’s Chris Tomasson. “In this case, I think he’s a No. 2 whose arrow is moving in a direction where we feel like he can become an NFL starter in our league. The evaluation was pretty crystal clear for all of us. I think he’s someone that’s going to be great in the room. He’s smart. Quietly, that was an important signing for us.”
Payton’s words do not point to a quarterback competition, but this addition does provide an option in case Wilson’s 2022 stumble was more indicative of a steep decline than being trapped in a dysfunctional offense. Here is the latest from the AFC West:
- Wilson ran into a few injury problems during his shockingly mediocre first season in Denver. Knee trouble can be added to the Broncos quarterback’s list of ailments. Wilson underwent arthroscopic knee surgery shortly after last season ended, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The 12th-year passer is expected to be ready for Payton’s first round of Broncos OTAs. This issue nagged Wilson for a few seasons, per Rapoport. Last year, the knee trouble accompanied hamstring, shoulder and lat issues, along with a late-season concussion. Wilson, who did not miss an NFL start until his 11th season, missed two games last year.
- Dre’Mont Jones signed for slightly more per year than Zach Allen, committing to the Seahawks on a three-year, $51MM deal just after the ex-Cardinal agreed to a three-year, $45.75MM Broncos pact. But Jones ended up receiving less guaranteed money ($23MM) than Allen ($32.5MM). The Broncos viewed Jones’ initial asking price as too high, Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com notes, pointing to Jones — a player the team had long wanted to retain — preferring a change of scenery or reducing his demand as the market shifted. The Browns also pursued Jones but landed Dalvin Tomlinson shortly after the ex-Bronco’s Seattle pledge.
- Austin Ekeler explained his trade request recently, correctly indicating his contract is out of step with the value he provides the Chargers. But GMs do not see a market forming for the former UDFA, Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post notes. Ekeler has outperformed most of his peers on their respective second contracts, but several teams took advantage of this year’s buyer’s market at the position. Many lesser backs filled roster holes. While Ekeler is still just 27 and could provide versatility for another team, the Bolts may not land too much for him. His four-year, $24.5MM contract runs through season’s end.
- Robert Spillane signed a two-year, $7MM Raiders contract, coming over from the Steelers. That ended up being more than Denzel Perryman received to leave Las Vegas for Houston, and Spillane said (via The Athletic’s Vic Tafur) Raiders coaches want him to wear the green communication dot. This would point to the Raiders eyeing a big role for Spillane, a run-stuffer who logged a career-high 59% defensive snap rate in 2022.
- The Raiders were planning to move Dylan Parham from guard to center, Tafur adds, but the team’s decision to retain starting snapper Andre James will lead to Parham staying at left guard (Twitter link). A 2022 third-round pick, Parham started all 17 Raiders games as a rookie. McDaniels said the Memphis alum will still work at center, pointing to this being the team’s backup plan in case James goes down.
- Jerry Tillery‘s Raiders deal is a two-year, $6.8MM accord that includes $5.5MM in total guarantees, Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 tweets. The ex-Chargers first-round D-tackle is due a guaranteed $1.5MM roster bonus in 2024, though his 2024 base salary ($1.7MM) does not become fully guaranteed until next March.