On this holiday, let us give thanks.

I’m thankful Broncos General Manager George Paton signed two high-end wide receivers for the price of one.

Seriously, let’s do the math on the deals earned by Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick.

Sutton, a blue-chip, physically dominating receiver, was signed to a four-year, $60.8 million deal, or $15.2 million per year. Tim Patrick inked a three-year, $30 million extension that was surprising to me, although well-earned for his incredible reliability in the face of mediocre quarterbacking. Even if all the money in those contracts were guaranteed (it’s not), it adds up to $25.2 million per year. That’s less than the $27.25 million per year earned by Arizona receiver DeAndre Hopkins, arguably the best wideout in the league. It’s only slightly more than the market-setting deal due this offseason to DaVante Adams, which Pro Football Focus projects to be around $23.25 per year.

It is, in short, an absolute steal to lock down two excellent receivers at that price point. Sutton’s deal, in particular, is well below the value he’d secure in free agency.

What does this mean for Paton’s long-term plans?

Well, it hearkens back to the playbook used by John Elway between 2011 and 2015 as the Broncos were made attractive to — and built around — Peyton Manning. Julius Thomas and Orlando Franklin were drafted in 2011, and Willis McGahee was brought in via free agency. In 2012, Wes Welker was added and Manny Ramirez extended. The next year began with a franchise tag for longtime offensive tackle Ryan Clady that eventually progressed to a five-year extension. It was also in 2013 that C.J. Anderson was signed as an undrafted free agent, though it took a couple years for him to fully bloom. Emmanuel Sanders was added in 2014 and Demaryius Thomas was first tagged, then extended in 2015.

Not to mention all the defensive improvements the Broncos made in that span.

All of these changes were in the service of landing and appeasing a Hall-of-Fame quarterback and they have direct parallels to the modern Broncos. In addition to the two brilliant wide receiver signings, left tackle Garett Bolles was inked to a long-term deal. Dalton Risner and Quinn Meinerz were drafted to fill out the offensive line. Running back Javonte Williams was brought in with some serious draft capital.

All that, with the integrity of an incredible secondary and defensive front maintained.

Paton’s just rolling out the red carpet a little sooner than Elway did.

For whom is this roster built? That remains to be seen. Aaron Rodgers is probably the strongest candidate, if not my favorite choice. The antics aren’t for me but his play on the field would make the Broncos an instant Super Bowl contender. The roster around him would be better than anything the Packers supplied him with.

The other option is Russell Wilson, whose relationship with Seattle is rocky at best. It seems unlikely he’ll play out the remainder of his contract with the Seahawks as quarterback salary numbers climb. With the framework being set up in Denver and a potential coaching change on the horizon, perhaps the chance to mold a team in his own image is appealing the Wilson. He’d get to play behind a decent offensive line for once in his career, too.

Then there’s the third door, which is perhaps the riskiest of all. The Broncos could roll the dice in the draft. Matt Corral will likely be off the board by the time Denver picks, though he can’t be completely ruled out with all the draft capital gained by the Broncos through the trade of Von Miller. Crazier trades have happened.

Malik Willis could be the answer, with the Broncos tailoring an offense to his Lamar Jackson-like skillset.

Carson Strong is a great pick if we’re drafting in 2002. Not so much for 2022. Sam Howell is a ton of fun to watch in college but his pro potential is questionable at best.

All the pieces are in place. Signing Sutton and Patrick means big things for the Broncos’ offense. Now they just need to find a man to run it.


The Broncos are 2.5-point underdogs at home against the Chargers. Although there are some big offensive disparities, particularly at QB, the Broncos have won seven of the past eight games played at Mile High.

Whether past success is indicative of the future remains to be seen but there’s value to be found elsewhere in the game. The under is hit by both the Broncos (70%) and Chargers (60%) more often than not this season. In terms of player props, Justin Herbert is a consistently reliable rushing QB — something the Broncos struggle against — and Austin Ekeler has scored at least one touchdown in 70% of contests.

Matt Meyer writes a weekly sports column for The Sentinel. He can be reached at jmattmeyer@outlook.com.