Broncos' Biggest Winners & Losers of Offseason Training Program Revealed

Here's your Denver Broncos stock report entering training camp.
May 23, 2024; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Bo Nix (10) and quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) during organized team activities at Centura Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
May 23, 2024; Englewood, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Bo Nix (10) and quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) during organized team activities at Centura Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

The Denver Broncos' offseason training program has been in the rearview mirror for a week-plus, and the months of conditioning and practice have given us a bead on how things are shaping up. It's obviously far from the complete picture, but oftentimes, trends begin during OTAs that carry forth into and through the regular season.

This was a unique offseason for the Broncos. After a disappointing Year 1 of the Sean Payton era, the Broncos pulled the plug on Russell Wilson, leaning into the punitive $85 million dead-money hit to the salary cap, and officially beginning a rebuild.

Whether that rebuild ends up being of the 'mini' variety, only time will tell. But Wilson's albatross of a contract forced the Broncos to make some brutal roster decisions, releasing, trading, and not re-signing many tenured veterans.

The 2024 roster has been flooded with new blood, including a shiny first-round quarterback. Payton has embraced a youth movement amid the early stages of the rebuild, and while it seems to have created media skeptics across the Fruited Plain, it could pay off in the long run.

With so many new faces, who are the biggest winners and losers of offseason training program? With the stage set, let's dive in.

Winner: Bo Nix | QB

Indeed, Nix tops the list as he had himself a very, very productive offseason after the Broncos made him the No. 12 overall pick in the draft. Can you say, "as advertised?" Payton, who's been stingy with his praise since joining the Broncos 18 months ago, took every opportunity to gush about Nix and defend the decision to draft the former Oregon star.

Nix still has a long row left to hoe in order to assuage any concerns the Broncos coaching staff may have about starting a rookie out of the gates. But momentum can be a real, tangible thing, and Payton couldn't stop talking about how Nix's performance during OTAs was exactly "what we saw" when scouting him.

Winner: Jarrett Stidham | QB

How can both Nix and Stidham be winners? Well, for as much as Payton complimented Nix left and right, Stidham quietly had a very strong offseason — so much so that 9NEWS' insider Mike Klis claimed that "almost all media observers" believe he was the team's best quarterback.

I have my doubts, but Stidham didn't have any setbacks. That's something Broncos fans can be sure of. In his second year in Payton's system, Stidham has used that experience to his advantage in this quarterback competition.

Will it be enough to forestall the beginning of the Nix era? Not unless Nix himself hits a rookie wall in training camp and preseason, and Stidham is simultaneously able to build his own tangible momentum.

Loser: Zach Wilson | QB

Wilson wasn't terrible. But he simply failed to distinguish himself in the Broncos' quarterback competition. One thing jumped out this offseason, though, and that's Wilson's unique arm talent.

But when it comes to the other quarterbacking requisites, for now, Wilson seems to be swimming as he tries to get his confidence back and find his footing in a new NFL home after unceremoniously being traded away from the Big Apple just three years after the New York Jets had made him the No. 2 overall pick in the draft.

Winner: Jaleel McLaughlin | RB

In a helmet and jersey, it can be difficult to measure a running back's efficacy, but that's the offseason, and the only format we have to go on so far. What makes McLaughlin an offseason winner, though, is the consistent praise he received from Payton.

Loser: Javonte Williams | RB

Williams is champing at the bit to prove that he's fully back from the career-threatening multi-ligament knee injury he suffered in 2022. He returned to play a full season in Payton's first year, but Williams was a shell of his former self.

Meanwhile, the Broncos drafted Audric Estimé in the fifth round and signed Blake Watson as a college free agent, signaling to Williams that the pressure is on. We'll know more in training camp just how the veteran interpreted the team's messaging, but even though Estimé missed the bulk of OTAs, it just feels like Williams has lost some ground.

But a contract year can do the damnedest things for a player's stock. Stay tuned.

Winner: Tim Patrick | WR

Patrick has missed back-to-back seasons due to injuries suffered in training camp. But he claims he's back to his pre-injury self and the early returns from OTAs seem to corroborate that.

Patrick restructured his contract to stick around in Denver, and if his luck by way of the injury bug holds out through the summer, a triumphant return could be in store for the former Utah Ute.

What happens next for the Broncos? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Take a second, sign up for our free newsletter, and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!

Winner: Marvin Mims Jr. | WR

Jerry Jeudy out, Mims in. With Jeudy dealt away to Cleveland, the Broncos created room for Mims to grow his role on offense.

A solid offseason, combined with the implications of the offseason moves Denver made, makes Mims one of the winners. Throw in the NFL's rule changes to kick and punt returns, and the arrow is definitely pointing upward for the 2023 All-Pro/Pro Bowler.

Loser: Courtland Sutton | WR

Sutton's hold-out (of sorts) from the entire voluntary portion of the Broncos' offseason training program has cost him some momentum. He's a proven veteran, yeah, and he's coming off his best season since his 2019 Pro Bowl campaign, but it's a rebuilt quarterback room, and while he's been absent, guys like Patrick, Mims, and others have been making hay.

Winner: Lucas Krull | TE

Krull has benefited from the continued absence of Greg Dulcich from the practice field. It's one thing to garner those first-team reps intended for Dulcich while he's on the never-ending mend, but it's entirely another to have the head coach and play-caller talking you up throughout the spring.

If Payton is forecasting the NFL world coming to know "No. 85" very soon, fans should believe it.

Winner: Alex Forsyth | C

The Broncos have a competition going for Lloyd Cushenberry III's former starting job at center, and the early leader in the clubhouse is Forsyth. A hand-picked center in Payton's maiden draft class, Forsyth has garnered nothing but praise from his head coach, specifically his football IQ and professional comportment.

Payton trusted Forsyth enough to include him in the Broncos' pre-draft evaluation of Nix, whom he snapped the ball to in 2022 at Oregon. That Nix/Forsyth history could equal chemistry, and that, on top of everything else, is an advantage.

Loser: Luke Wattenberg | C

Wattenberg didn't have a bad offseason, but on the heels of two lackluster seasons as a Bronco, he's failed to make himself the de facto successor to Cushenberry, even though he was initially drafted to be just that. The truth is, though, Wattenberg isn't a Payton pick, but Forsyth is.

Now, Wattenberg received his fair share of first-team reps this offseason, and that could continue in the early stages of training camp. But the job is Forsyth's to lose, which means Wattenberg has to be leaps-and-bounds better than he has been since joining the Broncos as a 2022 sixth-round pick.

Loser: Cody Barton | LB

The Broncos couldn't afford to re-sign Josey Jewell, so they threw a few bucks at Barton on a one-year deal. The expectation was that Barton, thanks to his experience, would be the shoe-in starter next to Alex Singleton, but there are other inside linebackers as involved in the conversation.

Barton needs to produce a dynamic preseason performance to win the job. Meanwhile, Payton is highlighting guys like Jonas Griffith and Levelle Bailey more than Barton.

Winner: Riley Moss | CB

The Broncos are searching for a new starting No. 2 cornerback, and Moss could have the inside track after a productive offseason. A 2023 third-rounder, he missed the majority of his rookie season with an injury, but the Broncos have high, high hopes for him.

There are other candidates for CB2 opposite Patrick Surtain II, but Moss may have an early stranglehold on the job.

Follow Mile High Huddle on X and Facebook and subscribe on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!


Published |Modified
Chad Jensen

CHAD JENSEN

Chad Jensen is the Founder of Mile High Huddle and creator of the wildly popular Mile High Huddle Podcast. Chad has been on the Denver Broncos beat since 2012 and is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America.