In the wake of the season-ending ACL injury to starting wide receiver Tim Patrick, all eyes are on Denver Broncos HQ to see if the team might look outside the roster for possible replacements.
If Denver were to look off-roster, the first name that comes to mind, for many, is Odell Beckham Jr. A vast swath of Broncos Country is pounding the table for Denver to reach out to Beckham and kick the tires.
There's just one problem with the OBJ-to-Denver thesis: he isn't healthy. Beckham suffered an ACL tear himself as a member of the Los Angeles Rams during Super Bowl LVI. That was in February.
While a wide receiver-desperate team like the Indianapolis Colts might be inclined to roll the dice on a still-recovering Beckham, the Broncos are in no such position, even in the wake of Patrick's injury. The Broncos are still blessed with a very deep and talented wide receiving corps.
With former high-round draft picks like Courtland Sutton (2019 Pro Bowler), Jerry Jeudy, and KJ Hamler on the field, the Broncos are positioned quite nicely to overcome the loss of Patrick. You hate to see such calamity befall a reliable player like Patrick, and a team leader to boot, but the Broncos are going to be okay.
This team doesn't need Beckham, despite his three Pro Bowl nods and two All-Pro selections. Not only are the Broncos three-deep at the top of the wideout depth chart, there are a handful of worthy depth players who could blossom and fill the vacuum created by Patrick's absence.
Then there's Russell Wilson.
Wilson produced nine Pro Bowl nods himself during his decade-long stint in Seattle, throwing mostly to a collection of former undrafted guys and mid-rounders. It wasn't until Seattle drafted DK Metcalf that Wilson received a first-round investment at wide receiver from his former team.
Much like Peyton Manning did both in Indy and Denver, Wilson is the caliber of quarterback who elevates everyone around him. Whether it's a Doug Baldwin (undrafted) going on to earn a couple of Pro Bowl selections and fat second contract, or Jermaine Kearse (undrafted) becoming a household name among fantasy football owners, and even a former third-rounder like Tyler Lockett earning first-team All-Pro honors, Wilson is adept at taking relative NFL lemons and turning them into lemonade.
Wilson deserves a commission check from Golden Tate for the five-year, $31 million contract he received on the free-agent market from the Detroit Lions after becoming a sensation as part of Seattle's victorious Super Bowl XLVIII squad. Wilson doesn't need to start with All-Pros at every position — he can make them if given the raw materials.
And the Broncos have most certainly given Wilson those materials, even in the absence of Patrick this season. Keep an eye on the younger players on the Broncos' roster just dying for a chance to move up the depth chart and catch passes from Wilson, like Tyrie Cleveland, Seth Williams, Brandon Johnson, Montrell Washington, and Kendall Hinton.
If a franchise quarterback is the tide that raises all ships, let Wilson elevate the boats around him. And what marvelous ships three of them already are.
Entering the 2022 season with a starting trio comprised of Sutton/Jeudy/Hamler, Wilson will begin a regular-season campaign with easily the most talented receiving corps he's ever had. And that's without Patrick.
Anyone behind those three who steps up between now and then will be icing on the cake. Reportedly, the Colts' talks with Beckham are "heating up."
Let another team squander money on what is likely to be a lemon of season from Beckham. He's coming off that ACL, and there's no guarantee he'll be able to even play football in 2022, let alone at a high enough level to replace a competent starter like Patrick.
Remember, Sutton tore an ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 campaign, and although he returned for training camp 2021, he wore a knee brace the entire season and never quite looked like the pre-injury version of himself. He's looking much more comfortable out there now catching passes from Wilson, but we're approaching the two-year mark from his injury.
Anyone who thinks Beckham will recover from his ACL tear in time to make an impact for some NFL team in 2022 is sadly mistaken. As much as it sucks for Patrick, the Broncos are going to be fine.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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