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Brandon Krisztal | KOA Denver Broncos Insider

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March 5, 2024 5:35 am

Brandon Krisztal | KOA Denver Broncos Insider

Amy Lawrence Show / Amy Lawrence

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March 5, 2024 5:35 am

Broncos Insider for KOA Denver Brandon Krisztal joins the show to break down the end of the Russell Wilson era, and where the team goes from here at QB.

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Delivery fees may apply. We're pleased to welcome our friend Brandon Kristol. Former colleague of ours was with us here at the inception of CBS Sports Radio, is now with KOA Colorado in Denver as a Broncos insider. I am really intrigued by this, the decision the Broncos made to eat a bunch of money. But exactly how much money are they losing on this Russell Wilson experiment, Brandon? Well, best I can tell, real money is $39 million. That's all that's left from the bonus that was given with the extension. And so even though the extension never kicked in, I think it's only $39 million. And so if a team signs Russ this year, and let's call it Steelers, Falcons, whoever, they can pay on the league minimum, which is $1.2 million.

And then subtract that from $39 million, I guess. And that's what the Broncos are writing a check for to Russ. The dead cat money isn't money that they're paying Russ. It's money that's already paid or throughout the life of the deal that obviously has now ended. But I think in real cash, I believe that's all that's owed to them. And I assume that the second they cut them, they just write in that check, or it probably gets direct deposit, and that's about it. But I don't believe they owe them any more cash after that. Why is it worth it to the Broncos to take the dead money hit, the money that's going to count against their cap?

Why is it worth it for them to make the move anyway? Last week, I was at the Combine all week long, right, and talked to everybody I could from the Broncos. And of course, I see those people throughout the season, but the conversations are often different. And certainly at the Combine, they're going to let their hair down a little bit more, so to speak, right? And so you get these different perspectives, but you come back to they all have varying criticisms of the limited ability for Russ to run the offense the way they wanted to. And would cite different examples of different games where basically things were left out on the field, right?

And as big as that win was over the Chiefs in snapping that losing streak over so many years, they left a lot of points on the field. And the defense needed five turnovers in that game to give them a chance, but they think that they could have scored, you know, 35 or 40 points, but just that Russ wasn't necessarily executing it the way they wanted, couldn't process it fast enough. And so Sean Payton took a page, I think, out of Pete Carroll and his playcallers' books as best he could, where his defense was trying to run the ball and then that Russ makes him plays when we really need him to, because that's when he's at his best.

But I think they just couldn't go another season having to hold his hand, if you will, and not open up the entire game plan. And so every, you know, I did this thing and you can find it on my social media, at BK Denver Sports, where I just asked a single question to any national person I could, you know, Charles Davis, Sean Wilcox, 10, 12 people, Albert Breer. But Chris Sims gave me the best answer. He said, you don't have Sean Payton to run the nine plays that they ran. You have Sean Payton to run nine million plays and to be as creative as he is as an innovator and all that, not paraphrasing. But so Chris gave me that great answer that that's why you have Sean Payton to unlock the full playbook and try to fool defenses, not to just try to beat them at something that's pretty straightforward and hope for the best. Was there any point during this past season once Payton took over in which you thought this might actually work? Well, it certainly seemed shaky from the beginning, right, from the comments that Sean made at the Super Bowl to me and a couple other reporters last year when he was making his media rounds on Radio Row. And then he followed him up at the Combine talking about all of the organization allowed Russ to have in his first year and all of that. But the one thing he said was that if they were winning, then I wouldn't be here. But here we are. And so you're like, OK, well, he's taking away a lot of the comforts that Russ had in year one, not that they were any benefit.

I guess when you look at the win-loss record, they only won five games that first year and obviously Hackett got fired. But can Russ run all the stuff that Sean wants? Maybe not. Andrew Brees might be similar in size.

There's obviously an install or so, but they're at the same kind of play. Drew has been a short pocket passer his whole life. And Russ has been a short user athleticism move around passer to a very high level, all the same level likely.

And so as you watch the season unfold and it's one and five to start, you're like, well, OK, does Russ even get through the year? But then they actually have that run in the middle where the defense is playing great. I look at the Cleveland game here in Denver against a really good Browns team with a really good defense where they neutralized Miles Garrett. I understand Cleveland was down to rookie quarterback at that point, and they hadn't found Joe Flacco yet on the field.

Joe was sitting on the bench in three clothes because he had just gotten there. But you're like, OK, that's a really good win. And they've beaten a Vikings team with some talent. I think that maybe it all comes together.

And then obviously, and maybe to back our student, I think about it, it feels like smoke and mirrors. It had shades of the Tim Tebow 2011 magical run. You're like their numbers, especially when you look at how many sacks he's taking, that kind of offsets the touchdown interception ratio. Brandon Kristall is with us from Denver, covers the Broncos for KOA Colorado.

It's after hours here on CBS Sports Radio. It feels so crazy to me that in the span of two years, just nothing, despite all of the thrill and the excitement and thinking that Russ was the last piece they needed to not just end the playoff drought, but get back to a Super Bowl. Well, and there's so many long suffering fan bases, right? But the Broncos aren't one of them. And they were lucky enough to get to a Super Bowl in 1977 after some some lean years in the 60s and 70s.

But it was trending up. And then they're able to acquire John Elway in 1983. And we know that run and then a pretty good little run with Jake Plummer. There was excitement around Jake Cutler didn't last. But then the Tebow year that I mentioned, of course, Peyton Manning in 2015 Peyton Manning rides up into the sunset after that Super Bowl 50 win.

And you think, OK, well, they'll at least be competitive, right? And they'll figure out the quarterback. Will it be Brock Osweiler? No. OK, here's Patrick Lynch.

Well, no, that didn't work. Oh, maybe they'll draft Josh Allen from right of the road. No, they instead grabbed Bradley Chubb. At that point, we were six years here in Denver of not seeing them in the playoffs.

And I can remember exactly what happened, because on that day and it's just a few days from now, but March 8th, which happens to be both Kenny Smith's birthday from TNT as well as my wedding anniversary. And so that morning the news comes out. Aaron Rodgers is staying in Green Bay. Oh, well, that's kind of the biggest reason that Nathaniel Hackett was brought here. Some people certainly thought that. I wasn't sure because you could you could feel Nathaniel's personality and how he kind of looked at things differently.

OK, this could work. It's a stark contrast from Vic Fangio. So a few hours later, my wife and I are painting pottery because that's what you do.

Pottery is the eighth wedding anniversary traditional gift. And my phone starts blowing up and I'm like, well, my day is now different. And you're thinking, wow, Russell Wilson's coming here with Nathaniel Hackett's going to run some of the stuff they ran with Rodgers.

And sure, we'll see some bootleg in this West Coast stuff. It makes all the sense in the world. OK, you couldn't get Rodgers. You're getting a younger guy who's maybe hungrier or whatever, but certainly with more gas in the tank. And you think pair him with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Judy and some nice pieces on defense.

And you think, all right, this could be something. And we know that it just hasn't worked. But it is crazy because Broncos fans are just thirsting for that quarterback, that cornerstone. And you thought seven year deal for us makes a lot of sense. And a new deal was part of the trade. He didn't waive his no trade clause to not expect a new contract. And the new owners came in and I think just honored what was part of the trade. Right. They don't want that first move to be the franchise quarterback being shut down on a new deal before he can take a snap. We understand why they agreed to it.

And I think a lot of people would have based on what we saw. Nine Pro Bowls, eight playoff appearances, a couple of Super Bowl appearances, obviously the win Super Bowl 48. But it is crazy to think how quickly and really if you look at just year one, just how crazy it was from the jump where you're like, well, this isn't really working. Going all the way to that loss in Seattle on opening night. Right.

No doubt. You just went through some of their QB history since Peyton Manning. It's a major reason why we've seen changes in the front office, why we've seen coaching changes. They still do not have a quarterback. So what now? It's funny because, you know, I mentioned I talked to all these national media types, analysts, insiders, whatever, and more than one.

And it feels like they're getting this from inside the building as well. We're high on Jared Stidham. And he started those last two games. He started a handful of games at the end of the season in both New England and then Vegas last year before he got here and started the two games in Denver.

I like Jared Stidham, the person. I got to interview him at the Senior Bowl when he's coming out of Auburn. And you're like, OK, he had a nice career at Auburn.

Obviously, he started at Baylor. All I heard before I sat down and talked to him was, man, those guys intangibles are off the charts. And it reminded me of what I would hear about Mark Sanchez, right? When Mark Sanchez was coming out, you heard if he's in a car with Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart and Matt Castle, these other USC pros, he's the one driving the car, right? That's who Mark Sanchez is.

And we know he maybe just didn't have enough tangibles. And so with Stidham, certainly in the smallest sample size, not sure he has enough tangibles, but Sean Payton thinks that he can run his offense. If they rolled Jared Stidham out there on opening day and it's because he beat Ryan Tannehill out or someone like that and the rookie QB that's here is a mid-round pick, it's going to really, I think, anger some Broncos fans who are now longer suffering than they've ever been or than they have been in 55 years with eight straight seasons out of the playoffs.

And so I think that Stidham is at the very best plan. We'll see if they do try to go after a Gardner Minshew or even a Kirk Cousins. I don't think that they will, because of where they are cap wise, go after somebody much more than that, a reclamation project on Tannehill or maybe a Jacoby Brissett, but I'm not sure Jacoby Brissett excites fans either. If they don't draft a rookie QB that we have to believe that they like, right, and even trading up just one spot to 11 with the Vikings to go get a guy that they, quote, love, that they can reach, and a lot of people think it'll be J.J. McCarthy if he's there, but if they don't have a rookie quarterback in this class, I think that if they start out slow, even with 90,000 people on the season ticket waiting list, we're going to start seeing empty seats in the powerfield at Mile High because they're just so disheartened by the lack of vision. I guess, if you will, or having their young quarterback that they just had, you know, really had since John Elway was young in his career.

It certainly does feel like it's been one big reclamation project after another, and they keep missing, even though they keep trying all kinds of different ways to not just improve the position, but find their next franchise guy. You cross your fingers if you're a Broncos fan, and if it's not McCarthy, is it Bo Nix, is it Michael Penix, and you can find, I'm sure, Foulton, all of those top six QBs, if not because of the year he had, and the excitement, I guess, certainly the start of the year, but that Shader Sanders had right up the road in Boulder. Okay, how do you make sure that you've got one of the top picks next year to go out and try to draft Chidoor, but there's no way Sean Payton is going to be anywhere close to that, right?

You would think that he's still going to find a way to win five or six games, let alone maybe even seven or eight like he did last year. If they don't love one of these rookie QBs, or if they can't get to the one they love, the idea to love the one you're with, and if that's Jared Stidham, then it feels like it'll be a miss. So I'll be fascinated to see, with the limited money they have, who in the veteran quarterback market they go after, because you've got to think Baker Mayfield's going back to Tampa with the Mike Evans news. You've got to think there's a way Mike Evans finds that deal if he doesn't know that Baker's definitely part of their plans next year.

Then it goes back to Cousins. You're not trading for Justin Fields. If you're going to do that, you just keep Russell Wilson, right?

And so I think that it's going to be really fascinating to see the way they go in the short term and or what are they willing to part with. And so that's why I keep an eye on not just a Jerry Judy trade or even a Courtland Sutton trade, but as much as I think it'll pain folks in Broncos country to see it, if they were to trade Justin Simmons for a second, third round pick, if they could get something that's probably more like a third, because he's now north of 30. He's been an All-Pro. He's led the team in the league in interceptions one year.

And so I think that they need to acquire more assets so they have more ammunition to be able to move up if they need to, if there is somebody they love. Brandon Cristal is with us from Denver, the big move by the Broncos. Not a well-kept secret, but Russell Wilson on the way out after just two years.

It's after hours with Amy Lawrence here on CBS Sports Radio. What else do the Broncos need with their limited draft picks or their limited cap space? They need more help on the defensive line. They like these young linemen that they have that aren't playing, but they have to decide what to do with Garrett Bowles. I get the sense he doesn't want to play on his current contract. And if they decide just to cut him to save $16 million or whatever that number is, give or take, well, what's your plan there?

Are you going to fire out a developmental kid? So you need a long-term solution at left tackle. You're locked into Mike McGlinchey, who's a great guy, a captain, and a really good run blocker, and an average pass blocker.

You're locked in with Ben Powers. They've got to figure out the center as they let Lloyd Cushingberry go, who had his best year as a pro. And then they can never have enough cornerback help. And if they move on from Simmons, then do they feel good about the young safeties they have?

Perhaps. But they just kind of need depth in those spots. And if they do move on from Judy and Sutton, well, they need more wideout help to go with Marvin Mims Jr., who will be the featured guy returning. And they need tight end help. I think that in a perfect world, if they had the veteran quarterback they like, they'd love to try to grab Brock Bowers at 12, but they don't have that right now. How would you describe the attitude or the atmosphere, the outlook around the Broncos right now?

I think it depends on who you ask. I think fans are annoyed and disappointed. Sean Payton doesn't feel that, because he's only been here for a year, and he just kind of thinks of the idea of the Broncos.

He's not living and dying with every loss. George Payton, this is the first time, and now heading into his fourth year as a GM, where he has the same head coach. He has Vic Fangio in year one, then he hires Hackett in year two, and Sean Payton in year three.

So he has felt a little bit more than Sean has, but they don't share those same memories that the fans here do. So I think the fans are hopeful that they love one of these young quarterbacks in the draft and can go get them, so they can buy the jersey and then obviously that it works out. Because beyond that, I think that, to say cautious optimism is probably even too much to characterize the way the fan base is right now here in Broncos country. I think that they know they've got some interesting pieces in certain parts, and hopefully Javonte Williams is better in year two off the ACL. They like the kid, Jaleel McLaughlin, and I mentioned Marvin Mims Jr., and certainly Baxter Tann Jr., for a lot of people's money, the best cornerback in football, even though he played hurt in the last four or five games and just toughed it out and it showed, especially in that Patriots game on Christmas Eve. Fans here are, at this point, conditioned to be disappointed, which is not something that they're used to, especially once Pat Bullen bought the team in the early 80s, but that's where they are, and so with the expectations lowered, I suppose, then the only direction to go is up. I also get the sense too, I mentioned being at the combine, people around the league have much more faith in Sean Payton than folks here do, but that's because I think they understand the mechanics of the NFL better and what it takes to win and to sustain winning, which is something Sean did where they won a lot of games and had really good offense. Sean Payton will get it figured out, and I'm not sure Broncos fans think they're just so reluctant to bind anything at this point that they're not ready to jump in with both feet on Sean Payton.

They want to see him prove it to them that he still has that genius in it. Oh, how the perspective and the attitude has changed, although it's been a long eight years since Super Bowl 50. Lots of good content on Brandon's Twitter at BK Denver Sports, covering this Broncos drama and Russell Wilson's departure, like he covered Russell Wilson's arrival for KOA Colorado. We're always glad to have him with us here on the show. Brandon, thank you so much. Thanks, Amy.

Talk to you soon. Old Man Winter here. If I had it my way, it would stay winter all year long. Short days, wind chill, black ice and a good polar vortex.

Heaven. Wait, is it getting warm in here? Your cold snap is over, Old Man Winter.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-05 07:10:14 / 2024-03-05 07:19:45 / 10

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