Bo Nix

QB Bo Nix On Track To Start For Broncos?

To little surprise, the Broncos were one of six teams who used a first-round pick on a quarterback during this year’s draft. Bo Nix – head coach Sean Payton‘s target throughout the pre-draft process – is in line to serve as Denver’s starter at some point in the near future.

The Oregon alum is one of three signal-callers who has spent time with the first-team offense during offseason practices to date. Nix is competing with trade acquisition Zach Wilson and returnee Jarrett StidhamThe latter has familiarity with Payton’s scheme dating back to his two starts at the end of the 2023 campaign, and he opened OTAs tentatively atop the depth chart.

Nix has impressed so far, though, as ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler notes (video link). The 24-year-old made a record-breaking 61 starts in college, and that experience should allow him to transition to the pro game fairly quickly. Nix’s accuracy was a central aspect of his success with the Ducks, and his ability to translate that at the NFL level will be a key talking point for the Broncos if he sees playing time as a rookie. Mike Klis of 9News confirms the QB1 job is Nix’s to lose at this point, adding he is on pace to start Week 1.

Of course, this week’s minicamp – and, more importantly, training camp this summer – will more clearly define the pecking order at the position. Denver took on an historic dead money charge by releasing Russell Wilson, clearing the way for Payton to move forward in his Broncos tenure with his preference under center. If that proves to be Nix right away, he will be expected to elevate an offense which put up middling numbers in several categories last year.

Klis adds that the battle for QB2 between Stidham and Wilson will be worth monitoring. The former is due $6MM in 2024, but only $1MM of his salary is guaranteed. The latter, by contrast, is owed the guaranteed $2.75MM Denver agreed to take on as part of the trade agreement with the Jets. Klis notes the financial element of the situation could come into play, and that will especially be true if Wilson can demonstrate why he was a recent No. 2 pick.

Like all teams, nothing is truly settled at this point of the offseason. Still, signs still point to Nix holding down starting duties right away as the Broncos continue to sort out their quarterback pecking order over the course of the offseason.

Latest On Broncos’ QB Competition

The Broncos added their preferred Russell Wilson successor in the first round of the 2024 draft. Bo Nix is positioned to see plenty of time at the helm of Denver’s offense over the course of his rookie contract, but that may not mean he sees the field right away this year.

The decision to move on from Wilson (along with more recent one to waive Ben DiNucci) has left Denver with three signal-callers. Nix is joined by offseason trade acquisition Zach Wilson and returnee Jarrett StidhamThe latter is the only one with experience working under head coach Sean Payton.

A report from earlier this month confirmed, to no surprise, that Stidham is expected to open OTAs with the Broncos’ first-team offense. The 27-year-old started two games last year after Wilson’s benching, and he will have the opportunity to earn the Week 1 starting gig depending on how Nix and Wilson are evaluated over the course of the summer. Payton recently confirmed those two passers will receive plenty of looks as well, though.

“We’ll figure it out,” the former Saints Super Bowl winner said during minicamp about a QB rotation once training camp begins in July (via ESPN’s Jeff Legwold). “With young guys, the reps are important. But we’ll have a rotation, and we’ll go from there.”

Wilson struggled mightily during his time with the Jets. The 2021 second overall pick was slated for backup duties in 2023, but Aaron RodgersAchilles tear thrust him back into starting action. Wilson did not progress compared to his previous campaigns, and New York dealt him to Denver as part of a Day 3 pick swap. One year remains on his rookie contract, with the Broncos footing half of the bill per the terms of the trade.

Of course, most of the attention at Broncos’ camp will be aimed at Nix. The Auburn and Oregon product made a record-breaking 61 starts during his time in college, and he is likely much closer to his NFL ceiling than many of the five other passers selected within the draft’s opening 12 picks. Payton and Co. were frequently connected to Nix in the pre-draft process, and the Broncos had him ranked as their third-best QB prospect.

Given the team’s struggles in finding a true Peyton Manning replacement, the Broncos will be satisfied with any of their in-house options taking charge in the upcoming quarterback competition over the short term. It will be interesting to see how Nix stacks up against Stidham and Wilson, and how quickly he is handed the reins depending on their respective performances.

Broncos, QB Bo Nix Agree To Terms

The last of this year’s six quarterbacks chosen in Round 1 will be the first to sign his rookie deal, with ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter indicating Bo Nix put pen to paper with the Broncos on Friday.

As the Broncos have tried and failed repeatedly to replace Peyton Manning, Nix is the second Round 1 QB the team has turned to since the legendary passer’s retirement. The team whiffed badly on 2016 first-rounder Paxton Lynch. Chosen 14 spots earlier (12th overall), Nix will be counted on to help the franchise move on from the Russell Wilson mistake admission.

Setting a Division I-FBS QB record with 61 starts (at Auburn and Oregon), Nix dazzled at the Pac-12 program. The Broncos made an effort to separate the bevy of screen and short-yardage throws Nix made in the Ducks’ system — one that produced a 45-3 TD-INT ratio last season — and the team came away with an assessment Nix remained one of the draft’s most accurate passers. On the whole, Nix completed an astonishing 77.4% of his passes last season.

The Broncos have Jarrett Stidham under contract, and the team finalized a Zach Wilson trade days before the draft. The Sean PaytonGeorge Paton combo had zeroed in on Nix by the time the Wilson trade was final, and it appears likely the five-year college starter will be under center early this season — if not by Week 1. The Broncos waived Ben DiNucci earlier this week. Stidham’s two-year, $10MM deal calls for a $4.49MM 2024 base salary; just $1MM of that is guaranteed.

Payton admitted he played a part in a smokescreen effort centered around the Broncos as a threat to move up the board. While connections to J.J. McCarthy were present — leading to the Vikings to trade up two spots for the Michigan passer — the Broncos were enamored with Nix. They are believed to have rated the Oregon-developed prospect as this draft’s third-best QB. Many disagree with that assessment, but Payton will get to work training the 6-foot-2 passer in his system.

Nix topped out at 16 TD passes in a season in three years at Auburn; like Michael Penix Jr., his numbers took a leap following a 2022 transfer. Nix threw 29 TD passes and seven picks at Oregon in 2022, adding a career-high 510 rushing yards and 14 TDs. It remains to be seen how much Nix’s scrambling ability will translate to the NFL, with his arm strength drawing some questions. The Broncos will bank on their handpicked QB’s accuracy and quick release, and the team has his former Ducks center — 2023 seventh-round pick Alex Forsyth — and top wide receiver (2024 fourth-rounder Troy Franklin) in place as the NFL development process begins.

Since Manning’s March 2016 retirement, the Broncos have used 13 starting QBs. The Lynch pick busting led the team to try free agency (Case Keenum), trades (Wilson, Joe Flacco, Teddy Bridgewater) and the second round (Drew Lock). Nix is the earliest Broncos QB draftee since Jay Cutler in 2006; the Payton regime will largely be shaped by how the latest QB1 candidate performs.

Broncos Made Call About Moving Up In Round 1; Team Eyed TE Help In Offseason

Sean Payton admitted he was a central part of a smokescreen effort that centered on Broncos interest in moving up for a quarterback. This buzz certainly may have influenced the Vikings to trade up one spot (via the Jets), and the effort also involved Denver brass making calls about moving up the board.

The Bears heard from the Broncos about No. 9 overall, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes. This would add a layer to one of the more interesting smokescreens of recent years. One pick later, the Vikings moved from No. 11 to No. 10, sending the Jets fourth- and fifth-round picks to climb up and lock in J.J. McCarthy draft real estate.

This did clear the runway for the Broncos to land Bo Nix, their long-rumored target, though it helped an AFC team in the form of Day 3 draft capital. Neither the Bears nor Jets were candidates to draft a quarterback, and Payton said he viewed the Vikings as more interested in McCarthy than Nix. The Broncos are believed to have ranked the Oregon prospect as this draft’s third-best QB.

The Broncos indeed became enamored with Nix, with Fowler adding the five-year college starter was the team’s “guy the whole way.” Nix, 24, will be expected to either begin the season as the Broncos’ starter or take over from either Jarrett Stidham or Zach Wilson early. Seeing as he spent a season in Payton’s system, Stidham is on track — per 9News’ Mike Klis — to see starter work to open OTAs. Though, the primary Broncos QB storyline will be Nix’s progress in Payton’s system as the offseason turns into training camp. Stidham’s two-year, $10MM deal includes only $1MM in guaranteed 2024 salary.

Also entering the draft with a quarterback need, the Raiders lurking at No. 13 influenced the Broncos to not attempt to trade down for Nix but rather to stay at 12 and pull the trigger. This prompted many to label the pick a reach. The Broncos had interesting options had they not opted to fill their most glaring need. Brock Bowers and Laiatu Latu remained on the board. Denver was among the teams to clear Latu on his pre-draft physical, Fowler adds, noting the team would have given strong consideration to the UCLA edge rusher had it not determined Nix needed to be the pick at 12.

Latu met with the Broncos during the pre-draft process; Bowers did not. But the Georgia tight end would have filled an apparent need for the Broncos, who have seen their top receiving tight end — Greg Dulcich — run into repeated hamstring trouble. Hamstring issues have caused the 2022 third-round pick to miss extensive time in both his pro seasons, leading to four IR trips already, and Klis adds the Broncos wanted to come out of this offseason with a tight end addition. Nothing has transpired on this front, though.

Specifically, the Broncos were hoping to acquire another receiving tight end. The Raiders ended up with Bowers at No. 13, despite having traded up for Michael Mayer (albeit under a previous regime) early in last year’s second round. The Broncos did not view the free agent market as lining up with their budget, Klis adds. The market also saw two of its top names — Hunter Henry, Dalton Schultz — re-sign before free agency began.

Ex-Broncos first-rounder Noah Fant stayed with the Seahawks (two years, $21MM) but was available during the legal tampering period. Falcons cut Jonnu Smith landed with the Dolphins for just two years and $8.4MM, while the Bengals scooped up Mike Gesicki for just $2.5MM. Gerald Everett joined the Bears on a two-year, $12MM deal, while Hayden Hurst followed ex-Broncos FA target (during Nathaniel Hackett‘s offseason as HC) Will Dissly to the Chargers.

While the Broncos circled back to edge rusher in the third round (Utah’s Jonah Elliss), they did not select a tight end. The team re-signed ex-Saints cog Adam Trautman on a two-year, $7.5MM deal. Trautman led Broncos tight ends with just 204 receiving yards last season, highlighting Dulcich’s absence.

Beyond Logan Thomas, the market is fairly dry for receiving TEs. This points to Dulcich, who totaled 411 receiving yards as a rookie but played in two games last season, having another genuine opportunity to hold this job — if he can stay healthy.

Broncos Met With Drake Maye, Spencer Rattler; Raiders’ QB Need Impacted Team’s Bo Nix Plan

While Sean Payton effectively admitted he participated in a smokescreen effort regarding the Broncos‘ interest in trading up for a quarterback, the team was most closely tied to Bo Nix during the draft run-up. That did not end up costing the Broncos, who selected the Oregon prospect at No. 12. But the team also did its homework on other passers.

We heard before the draft that J.J. McCarthy trekked to Denver and Nix threw for Broncos brass in Eugene, but SI.com’s Albert Breer notes the Broncos did meet with Drake Maye and Spencer Rattler before the draft. Maye proved to be well out of Denver’s price range, as New England turned down two offers — from the Giants and Vikings — that included 2025 first-round picks. Ticketed to be Derek Carr‘s backup in New Orleans, Rattler did not go off the board until Round 5.

[RELATED: Assessing Bo Nix’s Prospect Profile]

Multiple reports pointed to the Broncos being interested in making an aggressive move up the board for a passer; McCarthy, who met with the Broncos on a “30” visit, was mentioned as a target. It turns out Broncos-Nix connections early this offseason doubled as prescient reports. The five-year college starter will likely be given the keys early in his rookie season, with ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano mentioning during a recent TV appearance the recent Pac-12 star is expected to “play right away.”

Broncos GM George Paton scouted Nix at four Oregon games but did not share his views with Payton, per Breer, with an aim toward the Super Bowl-winning HC — and the current Broncos top decision-maker — reaching his own conclusions on the prospect. Payton said post-draft Broncos brass viewed the Vikings as being McCarthy fans and the Raiders eyeing Michael Penix Jr. The Broncos did carry some fear, especially after the Falcons chose Penix at No. 8, the Raiders would leapfrog them for Nix, Breer adds. The QB-needy Raiders’ presence at No. 13 influenced the Broncos to stay put and make a pick many have labeled a reach.

The Raiders were, in fact, interested in Penix — more so than Nix or McCarthy — according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. After a second straight offseason of extensive work on QB draft prospects, the Raiders did not add a high-value pick at the position. As the Raiders regroup around Gardner Minshew, the Broncos do not have a clear hurdle in Nix’s path to seeing action early. Denver has Jarrett Stidham as a placeholder and took a flier on Zach Wilson before passing on the ex-Jet’s fifth-year option. Barring something unexpected, it would surprise if Nix is not Denver’s starter early this season.

Although QBs coach Davis Webb ran Nix’s workout, Breer adds the Paton-Payton tandem — along with ownership — did not reveal to other members of the team’s staff where Nix stood on the team’s board. It is believed the Broncos viewed Nix as this draft’s third-best QB prospect. Most do not agree with that placement, and longtime draft analyst Todd McShay said during an appearance on The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo Podcast (h/t the New York Post) at least 10 NFL evaluators he spoke to did not have a first-round grade on Nix. The Broncos are high on Nix’s accuracy, with their research effort removing QB prospects’ screens and short routes to reveal a player who still ranked as one of Division I-FBS’ most precise passers when those dumpoffs are taken out of the equation.

Since Peyton Manning‘s retirement, the Broncos have used two first-round picks on QBs (Nix, Paxton Lynch) and one second-rounder (Drew Lock) on the position. The team made three trades for starters, obtaining Joe Flacco (2019), Teddy Bridgewater (2021) and Russell Wilson (2022), while signing Case Keenum (two years, $36MM) in 2018. Nothing has worked for the NFL’s only franchise to see a QB retire following a Super Bowl win. That has occurred twice in Denver, and the team has encountered a much tougher journey replacing Manning than John Elway.

Nix now holds the keys to the Broncos’ effort to pick up the pieces post-Russell Wilson, whose $85MM dead money number will cut into Denver’s ability to capitalize on the No. 12 pick’s rookie contract. Although Payton led the effort in pointing Drew Brees to the Hall of Fame and helping develop Tony Romo in Dallas, grooming a first-round pick from scratch will be new territory. With Wilson’s contract quickly becoming an albatross, the Broncos did not have much of a choice but to turn back to the draft.

Broncos To Decline Zach Wilson’s Fifth-Year Option

As expected, the Broncos won’t be committing to Zach Wilson for the 2025 campaign. According to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold, the Broncos have informed Wilson’s camp that they won’t be picking up the quarterback’s fifth-year option.

[RELATED: 2025 NFL Fifth-Year Option Tracker]

Considering the $22.41MM commitment that the option would have required, it’s not a surprise that the Broncos won’t lock themselves into that salary. Wilson will now hit free agency following the 2024 campaign, and he’s set to earn more than $5MM in what will be the final season of his rookie contract (the Jets are picking up a portion of that tab).

The Broncos acquired the former second-overall pick last week, swapping a sixth-round pick for a seventh-round pick along the way. Things have already changed since that acquisition, as the Broncos reached a bit for Bo Nix in the first round. The rookie could end up leading the depth chart in 2024, with only Wilson and Jarrett Stidham standing in the way.

Wilson, of course, will be seeking a fresh start in Denver. Following two underwhelming seasons to begin his career, the Jets made a major pivot last offseason when they acquired Aaron Rodgers from the Packers. The veteran suffered a season-ending injury in his first drive with his new squad, forcing Wilson back into the limelight. The third-year quarterback ended up going 4-7 under center, completing 60.1 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The Jets allowed Wilson to seek a trade elsewhere this offseason, although the market was predictably light considering the player’s lack of production and $11MM cap charge. They eventually found a taker in the Broncos, but following today’s move, this could prove to be only a one-year stop in Denver for Wilson.

Latest On Giants, Vikings’ Offers For Patriots’ No. 3 Overall Pick

While Drake Maye generated split opinions as a prospect during the pre-draft process, the Patriots have a rookie quarterback other teams coveted. New England’s reassembled front office has the trade proposals to confirm the interest.

The Patriots did not close off trade avenues, holding talks leading up to going on the clock for their highest draft choice in 31 years. But buzz in the hours leading up to the draft all but locked in Maye to Foxborough. The Giants and Vikings, who each had been viewed as having steady interest in the North Carolina prospect, did make notable offers for the pick.

We heard post-draft the Giants continued to pursue Maye while the Pats were on the clock. Big Blue offered New England its 2025 first-rounder to move from No. 6 to No. 3; New York’s package included that 2025 first and its second-rounder (No. 47) this year, according to ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan. The Vikings were OK unloading their No. 23 pick (along with No. 11) and their 2025 first to climb to No. 3, per ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss. Ultimately, the Pats balked and will build around Maye.

Considering how the Giants proceeded at No. 6, their pursuit of Maye qualifies as significant. The team has regrouped around Daniel Jones, despite doing steady work on this class’ top QBs. The Giants chose Malik Nabers over J.J. McCarthyMichael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix. Each passer visited the team during the draft run-up, with Raanan adding the team did not have this QB crop’s second tier graded highly enough for an investment at No. 6.

We had a lot of conversations with a lot of teams,” Giants GM Joe Schoen said. “I’m not going to get into specifics. We had a really good player at six. That was a position that I think was a need that we needed to upgrade. I’m fired up about the kid.”

The Giants’ Maye interest points to another make-or-break season for Jones, whose $40MM-per-year contract can be shed without too much damage in 2025. Jones performed well enough in his previous “prove it” season (2022), becoming the first QB to see his fifth-year option declined and then re-sign with that team. And Nabers profiles as the top target the 2019 first-rounder has been given while with the Giants. But Jones, who is expected to be finished with ACL rehab by training camp, is clearly on the clock once again.

The Vikings’ proposal also included two Patriots mid-round picks this year going to Minnesota, per Reiss. Going into the draft, the Patriots were not impressed with the offers they had received. As the Giants’ 2025 first-rounder dangled as an important chip — as the Pats would have only stepped back three spots in this draft and picked up a second — the Vikings essentially had to include two future firsts to present a viable offer. It cost the 49ers their 2022 and ’23 first-rounders, along with a third, to vault nine spots (No. 12 to No. 3) for Trey Lance in 2021. After New England passed, Minnesota did not end up needing to trade its No. 23 overall pick — later used to move up for Dallas Turnerto land McCarthy.

Each of this draft’s non-Caleb Williams first-round QBs trekked to Minnesota to meet with the Vikings before the draft. All but Jayden Daniels participated in a workout, with SI.com’s Albert Breer adding Daniels — who did not go through QB drills at the Combine or LSU’s pro day — passed on this part of the Vikings visit. Daniels had long been expected to go No. 2 to Washington, which was far less likely to trade the pick — despite the Raiders’ efforts — compared to the Patriots.

After Mac Jones could not sustain his rookie-year momentum — as the Pats cycled through offensive coordinators post-Josh McDaniels — Maye will be tasked with growing into a franchise-caliber passer. The 6-foot-4 prospect may well begin the season behind Jacoby Brissett, but given how this process usually goes, the two-year North Carolina starter should be expected to begin Pats QB1 work well before this season ends.

QB Draft Notes: Penix, Daniels, Nix, Raiders

The biggest surprise of the first round was Michael Penix Jr. hearing his name called eighth overall. The Falcons added to their quarterback room with their top selection, despite having signed Kirk Cousins in free agency last month.

The latter was taken aback by the decision, one which he became aware of while Atlanta was on the clock. Cousins is in place as the starter for multiple years, leaving Penix as a long-term developmental option (albeit one who is older than many other Day 1 signal-callers placed in a similar position). To no surprise, plenty of speculation has resulted from the Penix selection.

Owner Arthur Blank is believed to have driven this move, Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda reports. The quarterback position was seen as a sore spot entering the 2024 offseason and while the Cousins signing marked a short-term upgrade, the Penix addition is of course one aimed at future stability under center. Owners are often involved in major moves at the top of the draft board such as this one, but how the 2024 season (and beyond) unfolds with GM Terry Fontenot and head coach Raheem Morris at the helm will make for a key storyline vis-à-vis Penix’s path to playing time.

Here are some other QB-related draft notes:

  • Penix was the fourth signal-caller selected on Thursday, but Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer notes the Heisman runner-up was ranked third on the Falcons’ board. Some in the organization even had Penix second, Breer adds. The Washington alum was seen in some circles as a borderline Day 1 prospect, but his top-10 selection has cemented his status as a central figure in Atlanta’s long-term plans while also helping the value of his rookie contract.
  • As the top of the first round order played according to expectation, Jayden Daniels was selected second overall by the Commanders. That move came about after the team held an unusual evaluation featuring overlapping visits amongst the class’ best quarterbacks. While that limited Daniels’ availability to get face-to-face time on his own in many respects, Breer notes the Heisman winner was the only prospect who was permitted an “extended, exclusive meeting” with new owner Josh Harris. Given that update, it comes as even less of a surprise Washington followed through with drafting Daniels upon turning down trade interest.
  • Bo Nix was often mentioned alongside Penix as part of the 2024 class’ second tier of passers. Denver added him with the No. 12 pick, though, making him the sixth QB to hear his name called. The Broncos had Nix positioned third on their board, per Troy Renck of the Denver Post. With every other Day 1 passer having previously come off the board, that internal ranking is of course a relatively moot point. Nix will nevertheless enter one of the more intriguing quarterback rooms in 2024.
  • One of the suitors left out in terms of QB pursuit was the Raiders, a team known to have been very high on Daniels in particular. Vegas’ decision-makers were of the opinion there was a “sizable gap” between the top tier of Caleb Williams, Daniels and Drake Maye and the other passers, however, as The Athletic’s Vic Tafur reports (subscription required). For that reason, Tafur notes it would have been unlikely the Raiders drafted Penix or Nix even if they were on the board with the 13th pick. In an case, the team added tight end Brock Bowers with its top selection as part of the unprecedented run on offensive players to begin the draft.

Broncos Draft QB Bo Nix With No. 12 Pick

A sixth QB has come off the board, and the Broncos are indeed among the teams which have added a new signal-caller. Denver has drafted Oregon passer Bo Nix.

The recent Ducks standout had the murkiest outlook of all the top QB prospects. He ultimately fell in order behind the projected top-five at the position, but it’s a bit of a surprise that he landed as early as No. 12.

No less, the selection was made by Sean Payton, who had never taken a first-round QB in his long NFL career. The Broncos, however, emerged as the team most closely connected to the ex-Auburn recruit, being tied to him in early February. That turned out to be telling, as the Vikings traded up to No. 10 to ensure they landed the other QB the Broncos were closely tied to (J.J. McCarthy).

Nix put up less-than-impressive numbers during his time at Auburn, but a transfer to Oregon ahead of the 2022 campaign paved the way for his draft stock rising considerably. He totaled 94 touchdowns (74 passing, 20 rushing) in his two seasons with the Ducks, remaining efficient as a passer. Nix completed 74.9% of his attempts at Oregon, throwing only 10 interceptions along the way.

While Nix may lack the upside of some of his draft counterparts, the Broncos are confident he can be a steady presence on their offense for years to come. The organization held a private workout with the Oregon product the day before his pro day; that intel only came out this week. The night before that private workout, the Broncos sent the prospect “three packets of offensive play installation,” and Nix proceeded to “crush it,” according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. As a result, the Broncos felt comfortable taking him much earlier than many draft pundits expected.

Of course, it’s not a huge surprise that the Broncos were seeking a quarterback…it was just a question of which signal-caller they’d land on. The team moved on from Russell Wilson this offseason and did not do a whole lot to replace him. The organization recently acquired Zach Wilson from the Jets, adding the former second-overall pick to a depth chart that also features Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci. Considering that underwhelming trio, there’s a chance Nix runs with the starting job right away, although that depth could also afford the rookie some time on the bench.

There have now been six QBs selected within the first 12 picks. This matches the record-setting total that came off the board in the famous 1983 NFL Draft. The Broncos acquired a 16-year starter (via the Colts) in that draft, but while John Elway proved a revelation, the first-round arms Denver has chosen have not panned out since.

Tommy Maddox (1992), Jay Cutler (2006), Tim Tebow (2010) and Paxton Lynch (2016), did not become long-term QBs in Denver. The Broncos’ struggles post-Peyton Manning have been well documented, with Wilson being the most expensive failure. The Broncos will take on a record-setting $85MM in dead money ($53MM this year, which is a single-player record by itself) as a result of cutting Wilson. Nix will now come in as a cost-controlled option, one that could certainly define the Payton era in Denver.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

Broncos Worked Out Bo Nix; Vikings In Play For Oregon QB?

The Broncos have led the way when it comes to connections to Bo Nix, who is coming off a career that concluded with dominant numbers at Oregon and less impressive work at Auburn. Denver’s ties to Nix were not believed to have included a “30” visit, but a recent report provides more detail into the work Denver has done on the five-year college starter.

Sean Payton and Co. trekked to Eugene to work out the recent Ducks standout, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer. This March 18 trip came just more than a week after a Zoom call between Nix and Broncos brass. These interactions could be important for Nix, whose draft stock may be the murkiest among the top quarterback options in this year’s class.

[RELATED: Assessing Bo Nix’s Draft Stock]

A report earlier this month suggested the Broncos not taking Nix at No. 12 could precede a Will Levis-like freefall that could end with the 24-year-old QB tumbling out of the first round. But Denver has been tied to Nix since early February. The recent Pac-12 star could become a safety play for the Broncos, who have been linked to bigger-game hunting.

A report last week suggested Payton is ready to make a big splash — in a deal that could involve the team trading future high picks and/or Patrick Surtain — and move up the board for a passer he covets. J.J. McCarthy is believed to be a Broncos target, and a Wednesday report indicated other teams do indeed believe the Broncos could stomach parting with Surtain — and potentially other veterans on expiring contracts — if the prize is a quarterback near the top of the draft. These rumors suddenly make this one of the most important drafts in modern Broncos history.

The Broncos might not need to use No. 12 on Nix, potentially being able to trade down — which would help a team that gave up its 2024 second-rounder to obtain Payton’s rights from the Saints last year — and still acquire him. This would mean standing down on McCarthy or Drake Maye but would ensure Surtain stays a Bronco. The All-Pro corner now has two years remaining on his rookie contract, thanks to the Broncos picking up his fifth-year option; extension talks are tentatively expected to begin post-draft. That is, of course, if Surtain remains on Denver’s roster after tonight.

Breer’s mock draft does not send Nix to Denver, rather slotting tight end Brock Bowers at No. 12, though Peter Schrager’s final NFL.com offering this year does. Denver may not be the only potential landing spot. Nix visited the Giants (No. 6), Raiders (No. 13) and Seahawks (No. 16) and worked out for the Vikings (No. 11). While Minnesota has been perhaps the most consistently rumored team to trade into the top five for a passer, Yahoo.com’s Charles Robinson points to a scenario in which the Vikings stand down and wait — with Nix as a target.

If the Patriots draft Maye at No. 3 — as they are likely to do, barring a monster trade offer — a source informed Robinson the Vikings would be comfortable staying at No. 11 and selecting Nix. That range is viewed as high for Nix, whom some teams have graded as a second-round talent, but QB needs annually drive up the values of passing prospects. The Vikings also have a strong receiving corps that would help a player like Nix.

The Vikings, whom Schrager has trading up (via the Titans at No. 7) for McCarthy, being in play for Nix could produce a scenario in which the Broncos miss out on both the Michigan and Oregon arms. This may well hinge on the Giants’ interest in McCarthy, which is either waning or being covered up in a smokescreen effort.

If the Giants do not take a quarterback and the Vikings are comfortable waiting, McCarthy or Nix would stand to be available for the Broncos — that is, unless the Raiders or a sleeper team leapfrogs them. Teams are doubting Las Vegas will pull the trigger on such a move if Jayden Daniels is not the target. A Daniels-Antonio Pierce reunion is viewed as highly unlikely, with the 2023 Heisman winner on track to go to Washington.

Denver has Jarrett Stidham and Monday trade pickup Zach Wilson on the roster, but this depth chart would not generate much optimism ahead of Payton’s second Denver season. It is also not expected to impede a Broncos quest to add a long-term option tonight. Which QB will the team end up with to replace Russell Wilson?