With an offseason trade from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos, Russell Wilson has to feel like he has a new lease on his football life.
With a healthy, $245 million extension on the books and a renewed passion, Wilson seems motivated to return to top form. Even an opening Monday night loss in Seattle shouldn’t dispel Wilson’s enthusiasm, as he has a long season to redeem both himself and the team.
As for his new squad, the Broncos always seem able to acquire a great quarterback in unconventional ways from other NFL teams. Let’s take a closer look at how the Broncos have gone about getting their best QBs in past years as well as the impressive roster of signal callers they’ve had under center.
The Denver Broncos made a big splash by acquiring Peyton Manning in 2011
When a neck injury sidelined Peyton Manning in 2011, the Indianapolis Colts bottomed out. It just so happened that Stanford’s Andrew Luck was available in the draft that offseason. Manning gave the team his blessing to pursue the young talent. They released the best quarterback in franchise history.
Manning had no shortage of suitors. The Broncos proved their ability to nab a veteran quarterback by signing Manning as an unrestricted free agent. This uprooted Tim Tebow, the unorthodox but effective QB who led them to the playoffs the prior season. It was no surprise the team jettisoned Tebow in favor of one of the greatest passers to ever play the game.
Manning’s tenure in Denver was shorter than his run in Indy. But he had the same championship success. He took the Broncos to two Super Bowls and won one. Ironically enough, the quarterback he lost to in his first Super Bowl appearance against the team was Wilson, leading the Seahawks in a rout of Manning’s Broncos.
John Elway wasn’t drafted by the Denver Broncos
Manning wasn’t the only quarterback the Broncos acquired through non-draft means. In 1983, John Elway was the hottest prospect in the NFL draft. The Baltimore Colts held the first overall pick, but Elway had no desire to play there. He even threatened to play Major League Baseball after the New York Yankees drafted him.
Eventually, Elway engineered a trade, and the Colts sent him to Denver. Elway had quite a historic reign in Denver. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he led the team to five Super Bowls and won two. After his second Super Bowl victory, a win over the Atlanta Falcons, he retired. Elway went on to become the team’s general manager.
The first quarterback to lead the Broncos to a Super Bowl was Craig Morton
But before Manning and even Elway, the Broncos had yet another quarterback they acquired who was able to lead them to some level of postseason success. That quarterback was Craig Morton. According to Pro Football Reference, the Dallas Cowboys selected Morton in the 1965 NFL Draft. After playing nine seasons in Dallas, he went to the New York Giants during his tenth season.
In 1977, the Broncos acquired Morton, and he led them to a Super Bowl. Unfortunately, Denver came up short in a loss to the Cowboys. But it was just another example of the Broncos striking gold on a QB they brought to town.
If you’re keeping track, that’s three QBs the team acquired and then got to a Super Bowl with. Will Wilson have the same success? It’s too early to tell, and they have their work cut out fro them in a stacked AFC West. But Wilson’s led teams to Super Bowls before, so anything is possible.