Kiz: The Texans. The Lions. That’s the complete list of NFL teams with a worse current record than your Broncos. I projected Denver to be a fringe playoff contender in 2022, but never saw this mess coming. The NFL trade deadline is Nov. 1. The Broncos can’t get to the playoffs from here. They need to be a seller. Should they try to restock the draft cupboard by moving outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, a pending free agent?
Gabriel: It’s amazing the question is even being raised — though it’s a legitimate one at this point — a year after Denver traded away Von Miller for draft capital. Chubb has done exactly what the Broncos hoped this season and probably exceeded expectations in his return to good health and disruptive play. Chubb’s combination of value and contract status is what makes him an interesting trade piece: His deal is up after this year and the Broncos have shown impressive depth on the edge. They also gave a five-year deal worth up to $70 million to Randy Gregory this offseason, so they’ve got money tied up at the position already. General manager George Paton has said he feels the need to add to the meager five picks the franchise currently holds in 2023, a dearth created in part because it traded its first- and second-round selections to Seattle as part of the Russell Wilson trade.
Kiz: Handing quarterback Russell Wilson a $245 million extension before he played a game for the Broncos was a miscalculation that could get general manager George Paton fired long before the contract runs its course. But the calculus behind making the trade was also faulty, because even if Wilson plays like a top-10 quarterback, this team doesn’t have enough playmakers to be a Super Bowl contender. Outside of cornerback Pat Surtain and safety Justin Simmons, it’s hard to find legit Pro Bowl talent on this roster.
Gabriel: True, and an agrument could be made that outside linebacker Baron Browning is off to about as good a start as anybody else on the defense. He’s part of the reason a Chubb trade must be tempting for Paton and company. A future of Gregory, Browning and 2022 top selection Nik Bonitto might just work, though you’d love to have No. 55 in the mix long term, too.
Kiz: Chubb is not T.J. Watt. He’s not Maxx Crosby. But he’s an integral player to one of the NFL’s best defenses. I wouldn’t trade him. I’d put the franchise tag on him at the end of this season and bring Chubb back for 2023. The Broncos need draft picks. A broken offense needs to be retooled by the next head coach. So while the buzz has been about the possibility of trading Jerry Jeudy, the receiver I think Paton should try to move is Courtland Sutton. Sutton has demonstrated in the clutch of two losses this season he isn’t a truly elite No. 1 target in the passing game.
Gabriel: A report earlier this week said Carolina turned down an offer for two first-round picks in exchange for Brian Burnes. He’s two years younger than Chubb and has been healthy for his first three-plus seasons in the NFL. Chubb won’t command that kind of price, but if a team wants to get silly with its offer, it would behoove Paton to listen carefully. It’s a tough call. Premier edge talent doesn’t grow on trees and Denver’s seen the benefit of depth at the position this year. It also hasn’t translated to wins. The Broncos have cap space, but also need help on offense into the future, whether via the draft or free agency. Going young at OLB and getting picks for Chubb could help facilitate additions by both routes. Then again, Wilson’s cap number is manageable until 2025 and Chubb’s a leader on top of being a good player. What to do? Approach the trade deadline in bite sizes or take a massive swing at the piñata? A four-game losing streak makes reaching for the big stick seem like the way to go, but this is why general managers make more money than beat writers.