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Broncos mailbag: Right tackle competition, NFL quarterback rankings and ownership timeline

Mother's Day special addresses the vibe at Dove Valley, the Sutton-Patrick contracts and competition to become the Broncos' new owner.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Had I asked, mom would have said, sure, go ahead. Do the mailbag.

And remember, we not only all came from somewhere, we all came from mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

Mike, another draft and no right tackle drafted. I take it Calvin Anderson is the 2022 Broncos right tackle?

--Todd Allerdings

Todd – The Broncos did like a couple right tackles who were under consideration for their No. 64 and 80 picks in rounds two and three. I know Bernhard Raimann and Abraham Lucas were well regarded by the Broncos’ football people. Raimann went No. 77 overall to the Colts and Lucas went No. 72 to Seattle. So both were gone by the Broncos’ second pick, which was tight end Greg Dulcich, who filled a greater need, in my opinion.

So far, Anderson is the No. 1 right tackle. At least, he was during the Broncos’ voluntary minicamp two weeks ago, although his two veteran competitors, Tom Compton and Billy Turner, didn’t participate. I’d give Turner the edge because he was a 43-game starter the previous three years under Nathaniel Hackett at Green Bay. Turner is rehabbing from arthroscopic knee surgery this offseason.

But they like Anderson as either a starting right tackle or super sub swing guy. He received a guaranteed $2.5 million this season. Turner received a $2.245 million guarantee plus he can make another $255,000 in per-game bonuses, for $2.5 million. Compton received a $2.25 million contract, of which $1.5 million is guaranteed.

So financially, there is no leader in the clubhouse. The one Hackett, offensive coordinator Justin Outten and offensive line coach Butch Barry feel is the best fit will start the season opener. Something tells me more than one player will start at right tackle this season, though. It has not been the Broncos’ most stable position the past decade.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson takes part in drills during a voluntary veteran minicamp football practice Monday, April 25, 2022, at the NFL team's headquarters in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Mike,

Considering the Broncos were way down in the draft order, I believe as well I think you do also, that the personnel they did acquire was pretty good and will definitely be a welcome addition to the team, albeit, a bit of an overload on defense. But all in all, it was a good draft for the orange and blue.

There seems to be a great deal of positive vibe that I picked up on with your interview and other comments from coaches.

But as you pointed out, the division will be the most exciting in the league with each team having a top tier QB. There should be a great battle in the division.

And those shoes of yours; patented leather? Damn were those sparkling!!!

--Pen

Pen – There is no doubt the vibe is different at Broncos headquarters. For one thing, it’s the first time since 2019 – three years now – that the threat of COVID isn’t dominating the team atmosphere. And then between new quarterback Russell Wilson and all he’s accomplished through his first 10 seasons, and the energetic Hackett as the Broncos’ new head coach, there is an expectation to win 10-plus games this year.

The question is, 10-7 or 11-6? Seems to be a big difference. Kind of like in the NBA, all the 50-plus win teams advanced to the Elite Eight in the playoffs. All the less than 50-win teams did not.

RELATED: Russell Wilson shares same uncommon dedication to QB craft as Peyton Manning

As for the draft, we’ll see. Nik Bonitto and Greg Dulcich looked great on April 29, Day 2 of the Draft. But 63 players were selected before Bonitto, including four by the Chiefs, and 79 players went ahead of Dulcich. The buzz of possibilities is great on draft day, but once they become rookies, it’s time to temper expectations.

They’re both good players. The question is how soon will they be good players in the NFL? They all come along at different times. Even Tom Brady didn’t play his rookie season.

As for the shoes, I think they were a Christmas present. First wear. They’ll be scuffed in no time.

This is the first time in 6 years I do not really have to worry about the quarterback. Yes, it’s been that long. 

I personally think we got a great deal. The two No. 1s hurt especially that No. 9 overall pick. The two, 2s hurt but you had to figure if they did not do this, they would have used at least one of those first rounders on a quarterback. 

Shelby Harris is decent, but he being included surprised me. Lock was not coming back as people had lost faith in him and it’s better for both to go. Fant was a bust in many senses. I was very iffy about giving him a 5th year option. 

Do you really believe Russ is top 4 range? Seems a little high to me. I read people saying Russ is the 3rd best quarterback in the division, but what has Herbert really done? 

--Jon Cornbleet

Jon – The top 4 rating was while Tom Brady was retired. Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes II, Aaron Rodgers and Brady are the undisputed top 4. Not necessarily in that order, but maybe. I would put Wilson No. 5, followed by Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott and Matthew Stafford. I’m not sure where to place Deshaun Watson after he just missed a year and is iffy to start the upcoming season on time. I have the Raiders’ Derek Carr leading the Ryan Tannehill-Matt Ryan-Kirk Cousins-Jameis Winston-Jimmy Garappolo group. Perhaps Kyler Murray leads the next group with Mac Jones, Baker Mayfield, Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa.

Would I take Herbert over Wilson if I were building a team from scratch today? Yes, because Herbert is nearly 10 years younger. And his arm, size and mobility are enough to one day make him No. 1. Would I rank Herbert ahead of Wilson? No, because body of work far favors Wilson.

That Shelby Harris was part of the trade surprised me, too, Jon, because veteran players making decent money ($8 million this year), no matter how good, usually aren’t desired by teams surrendering a franchise quarterback. It’s the young and inexpensive players who usually have greater trade value.

I don’t agree that Fant was a bust. He was a top 10 tight end in catches and yards the past two years and his $6.85 million salary for 2023 was the least expensive of the fifth-year options. You’re not alone in your opinion, as much was expected of the No. 20 overall draft pick from the 2019 draft. He’s not exactly Javonte Williams in the contact balance department. But Fant was the key to the trade from Seattle’s perspective, aside from those four great draft picks.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos wide receiver Tim Patrick (81) and wide receiver Courtland Sutton (14) celebrate in the end zone after a touchdown catch by Patrick during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

Mr. Klis, Just read your story about re-signing Melvin Gordon. I’ve been wanting Broncos to re-sign Gordon for all the reasons you mentioned, plus I think the Broncos do not have to “reach” to fill any position on team.

One thing I might like you to address is how George Paton likely will use this year’s draft and/or player trades to add to the four draft picks Broncos have in 2023.

Another thing that I might like to see you address is how fortunate Broncos are that Paton extended contracts for Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton given the mega deals given to wide receivers this offseason. Neither was going to sign such a rich contract, but I’m sure there is a trickle-down impact for good wide receivers who are not superstars.

--Harold Reutter

This letter arrived a couple of days before the draft and yes, Harold, George Paton did pick up an extra third-round pick for the 2023 draft. The Broncos in 2023 now have zero picks in the first round, zero in the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, one in the fifth and one in the seventh. So in essence the Broncos’ future will be hamstrung for a second consecutive year.

Sutton received a four-year, $60 million extension in late November last season at a time when he and the rest of the Broncos’ offense had stalled. In his final 10 games last year he had 20 catches for 237 yards and no touchdowns – two catches and 24 yards per game. That $15 million a year deal seemed questionable.

But then came the offseason when four NFL receivers – Stefon Diggs, A.J. Brown, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill – received contracts worth between $24 million and $30 million a year. Sutton is now the 21st-highest-paid receiver. Now that Wilson is his quarterback, Sutton should be a top 15 receiver.

Sutton’s slump was also tied to the fading and banged-up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and his replacement Drew Lock. Sutton and Wilson already seem to be building chemistry. And Sutton does look much better this offseason without his knee brace. A second year removed from ACL surgery should bring Sutton back to the 1,000-yard receiver he was in 2019.

And Patrick was always going to be a good value at $10 million a year. He had 51 catches for 742 yards and six touchdowns in 2020; 53 catches for 734 yards and five touchdowns in 2021.

Put him down for 50-plus catches, 730-plus yards and five-plus touchdowns in 2022. That’s pretty good production for the roughly 30th-paid receiver.

Credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
In this Feb. 24, 2018 photo, Josh Harris is shown during ceremonies before a hockey game in Newark, N.J.

When might the final decision on ownership come down. It seems like a mere formality. I would be very surprised if the choice is not Walton.

--David Wilder

David – Robson Walton is the frontrunner based on how his reported net value dwarfs all other bidders. But I wouldn’t say it’s a formality. I do think the Josh Harris group is a strong contender on several counts. And I’ve been told a third candidate, Todd Boehly, delivered a well-structured opening-round bid. Not sure about the two mystery candidates.

Harris visited Broncos headquarters and toured the stadium last week, and with four other groups scheduled to do the same over the next two weeks, the earliest potential owners would be asked to submit second-round bids would be the end of this month or early June.

RELATED: Josh Harris finishes 2-day visit with Broncos

From there, it depends. If there’s a clear winner after the second-round bids are submitted, then Broncos Country could know its new owner as early as mid-to-late June – subject to NFL approval, which would come a month or two later.

If the bids are close, ownership transition managers Steve Greenberg and Joe Leccese may have to tweak the bidding process. If Walton and Harris come in at $5 billion, and Walton can write a $5 billion check while Harris can pay $4 billion in cash but needs another $1 billion in financing, I would think Walton would prevail.

Then again, Harris already has NFL approval by virtue of his 5% interest, along with partner David Blitzer, in the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s been vetted and approved by the league and I’m guessing has started building relationships with league people who can help him.

Harris also has considerably more experience as controlling owner of a sports franchise as he runs the NBA 76ers and NFL Devils. Another one of Harris’ top partners, Michael Rubin, owns Fanatics, the No. 1 sports memorabilia company with deep ties to the NFL.

Walton’s relation through marriage with Rams owner Stan Kroenke could be advantageous – unless the NFL ownership body raises concern at having two of 32 owners come from the same family.

If it’s about the highest bid, then it’s difficult to believe Walton won’t win the auction. If it's about other factors, then Harris has a chance. And again, there are three other competing bidders we know little about.

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