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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Jon Heath

12 outlandish quarterback options for the Broncos in 2024

After releasing quarterback Russell Wilson last month, Denver Broncos coach Sean Payton still hasn’t found a replacement. 

The Broncos did kick the tires on a few free agents (including Sam Darnold) and trade candidates (such as Sam Howell), but at the time of publication, Jarrett Stidham and Ben DiNucci are the only quarterbacks on Denver’s 90-man offseason roster

Stidham will get a chance to compete for the starting job this summer, but the question remains: Who will be his competition? 

The Broncos could trade up to select a top QB prospect in this year’s draft. If Denver passes on QBs in the draft, the Broncos could make a run at Dak Prescott in 2025 when he’s scheduled to become a free agent. 

What about this season, though? Denver will have various options in 2025, but the team still doesn’t have real competition for Stidham in 2024. 

Last week, Payton raised eyebrows when he said there are still quarterbacks available “who are currently in this league or have played in this league” (emphasis added). Payton mentioning QBs who previously played in the NFL has led to much speculation

That remark from Payton got us thinking about some of the most outlandish — but still somewhat feasible — QBs the coach might have been referencing. So we’ve put together a quick list of 12 QBs the Broncos could target ahead of the 2024 season. Some of them are more realistic than others. 

Tom Brady (46)

(Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)

Tom Brady’s performance appeared to be in decline when he last played in 2022, but he still managed to throw for 4,694 yards and 25 touchdowns. The San Francisco 49ers considered pursuing Brady last year, but the legendary QB did not come out of retirement. Brady is obviously the most notable name on this list and while it doesn’t seem likely, we’ll never say never.

Drew Brees (45)

(Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports)

Drew Brees did not age as well as Brady and he hasn’t played since 2020. In his final season, Brees was healthy for 12 games and threw for 2,942 yards and 24 touchdowns. There’s obviously the Payton connection to consider, but Brees seems content in retirement.

Ryan Tannehill (35)

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Ryan Tannehill seems like the most feasible potential target on his list, but at this point, he’ll probably wait until after the NFL draft to sign with a team. He started eight games last season, completing 64.8% of his passes for 1,616 yards and four touchdowns against seven interceptions. Tannehill certainly wouldn’t be an exciting option, but he might be a realistic one.

Matt Ryan (38)

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Matt Ryan didn’t play last season after throwing for 3,057 yards with 14 touchdowns against 13 interceptions with the Indianapolis Colts in 2022. He would be an underwhelming choice.

Brian Hoyer (38)

(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports)

Hoyer has 41 career starts on his resume, including one with the Las Vegas Raiders last year. Hoyer been a journeyman backup for most of his career and hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since 2021, making him another underwhelming option.

Philip Rivers (42)

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Similar to Brees, Philip Rivers last played in 2020 and he seems unlikely to come out of retirement. In his final season, Rivers threw for 4,169 yards and 24 touchdowns with the Colts.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (41)

(Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post / USA TODAY Network)

The ultimate journeyman, Ryan Fitzpatrick spent time with nine NFL teams during his 17-year career. Could the Broncos become team No. 10? Fitzpatrick last played for the Commanders in 2021, but he suffered a season-ending injury in Week 1 that year. He’s probably done with football.

Cam Newton (34)

(Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

Cam Newton indicated last fall that no NFL teams had reached out to him since 2021, perhaps a sign that clubs believe his playing days are behind him. Earlier this year, Newton said he’s no longer a football player but now a YouTuber. If the Broncos made him an offer, Newton would probably be willing to come out of retirement. Denver seems unlikely to pursue him, though.

Andrew Luck (34)

(Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports)

Andrew Luck unexpectedly retired before the 2019 season and nobody has been able to convince him to return to the gridiron. Perhaps Payton will make one final pitch for the QB to unretire.

Colin Kaepernick (36)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Colin Kaepernick has been out of the NFL since 2016, but as recently as last summer he was still training for a potential return to the league. Kaepernick could hypothetically compete with Stidham at training camp if the Broncos decide to sign him.

Johnny Manziel (31)

(Photo by Andrew Weber/Getty Images)

This entire list is, admittedly, outlandish. It’s going to go off the rails a little bit with these last two QBs. Johnny Manziel hasn’t played in the NFL since 2015, but he has spent time in the CFL, AAF and FCF since then. Johnny Football would be a wild option for Denver, but he’s not much more than a meme reference at this point.

Tim Tebow (36)

(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Tim Tebow last played in a (preseason) NFL game in 2021 and at that point he was attempting to return to the league as a tight end. Tebow probably won’t ever return to the league as a true QB, but perhaps Payton could give him a Taysom Hill-type of role in Denver?

It’s an outlandish list, OK!

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