Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Top Broncos Quarterback Options in 2024 After Russell Wilson

The Denver Broncos have set the stage to move on from Russell Wilson, benching the veteran for the final two weeks of the season to avoid his injury guarantee triggering, which creates a major void at the most important position in sports.

Presuming the Broncos move on from Wilson, it will end a tumultuous two-year tenure for the former Super Bowl winner in Denver, following one of the more disappointing and lopsided trades in recent NFL history.

In all likelihood, the Broncos will designate Wilson as a post-June 1 cut, because doing so would spread the $85 million dead-money hit that cutting him will trigger across the 2024 and 2025 seasons, rather than absorbing the dead money all at once.

Denver finds itself at a bit of a quarterback crossroads, because the Broncos are unlikely to be selecting in the top-10 of the NFL Draft — within reach of one of the premier quarterback prospects. So, Sean Payton and the rest of the organization must decide whether to build around a rookie quarterback on a team-friendly deal or once again spending significant resources on a veteran in an attempt to win now.

Here's a look at six potential scheme fits for Payton and the Broncos, both via the NFL Draft and veteran options primed to be available this offseason:

Bo Nix, Oregon

Barring some sort of meteoric rise up boards during the pre-draft process, the Broncos should be selecting somewhere in Nix' range in the middle of the first-round in April. Nix' arm-strength and accuracy fueled the Ducks' prolific offense this season, while passing for 4,508 yards with 45 touchdowns to just three interceptions. At 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds, Nix is essentially a Drew Brees clone (from a size perspective), which could lead to Payton believing he can build around and win big with Nix in Denver.

Jarrett Stidham, Denver Broncos

Jarrett Stidham's first start in relief of Wilson couldn't have gone much better. Stidham passed for 224 yards with a touchdown while playing an instrumental role in the Broncos' 16-9 victory over the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers. Payton has praised Stidham's ball-security and decision making, which could prove to be an interesting wrinkle should the veteran head coach carry the most influence over Denver's future at quarterback. It was Payton who pushed for Stidham as a veteran backup to Wilson, and the fact that he'd have just one year remaining at $5 million in 2024 could work in the 27-year-old a bargain candidate, with upside, for the Broncos next season.

Zach Wilson, New York Jets

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 12: Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets warms up prior to a game against the Las Vegas Raiders during a game at Allegiant Stadium on November 12, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The New York Jets are going to move Zach Wilson, ahead of Aaron Rodgers' return next season from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Acquiring Wilson would cost the Broncos draft capital, and must be paired with the belief that Payton is capable of reviving the potential that Wilson showed during his collegiate career at BYU but to date has yet to translate at the NFL level. Wilson has one year remaining on his rookie contract, and is set to count upwards of $11 million against the cap next season. If the Broncos do trade for Wilson, it may require a repeat of signing the 24-year-old to a long-term extension before he even takes a snap in the Mile High City, similarly to how Denver approached Wilson's arrival two years ago.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins might wind up being the most accomplished veteran quarterback available this offseason, if the Minnesota Vikings decide to go in a younger, cheaper direction for 2024 and beyond. The Vikings would create $28.5 million in cap space in 2024 while absorbing a $28.5 million dead-money charge in 2025 if Cousins is released with a June 1 designation this upcoming offseason. Cousins had many of the attributes of a quarterback that Payton seems to prefer. If Cousins becomes a free agent, it wouldn't be the least bit surprising if the Broncos aggressively pursue the 12-year veteran, in hopes of maximizing the potential of a rather young receiving corps with upside.

Sam Howell, Washington Commanders

Sam Howell has regressed down the stretch of the 2023 season, that could lead to the Commanders shopping the 23-year-old with two years remaining on his affordable and team-friendly rookie contract. In his first full season as a starter, Howell has completed 3,793 yards with 20 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. If Payton believes that putting Howell behind the Broncos' offensive line with the playmakers in place at receiver can help the young quarterback cut down on sacks and turnovers, perhaps Denver could consider flipping a Day 2 selection to Washington for a young reclamation project to build around on the cheap.

Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons

After benching Desmond Ridder multiple times in 2023, the Falcons will most likely be heading in a different direction at quarterback in 2024. Ridder's wildly inconsistent sophomore campaign, completing 63.4 percent of his passes for 2,545 yards with 10 touchdowns to 11 interceptions could suppress any trade market the Falcons hope to drum up for the 24-year-old. Ridder has two more years remaining on his rookie contract, and would only cost the Broncos $1.4 million against the cap in 2024 and $1.7 million in 2025, which could make it a bit less difficult to justify Wilson's colossal dead-money charge at the position.

MORE: Who Will Russell Wilson's Next Team Be? 5 Options That Make Sense