The Denver Broncos have made some bold moves in 2023 NFL free agency. The Broncos’ free agent signings under new head coach Sean Payton include right tackle Mike McGlinchey, guard Ben Powers, and defensive lineman Zach Allen. However, the sneakiest Broncos’ free agency move is signing backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham from the Las Vegas Raiders.

Jarrett Stidham is the sneakiest Broncos’ free agent signing

Broncos' free agency in 2023 had been all about transforming the team into Sean Payton’s image. The coach wants to run between the tackles, so he brought in two of the best offensive linemen in the 2023 NFL free agency class in Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers, as well as versatile running back Samaje Perine.

With Payton at the offensive controls, this power run game (think Mark Ingraham back in the day) sets up the play-action pass for the quarterback, who will have a large stable of different-style receivers to throw to, just as Drew Brees did.

To this end, the Broncos’ free agent signings this offseason also included two wideouts who played with Brees and Payton, Marquez Callaway and Lil’Jordan Humphrey.

With all these moves in 2023 NFL free agency, the Broncos’ offense now looks a lot like the Saint’s O of the last decade and a half. The biggest issue now is Russell Wilson is no Drew Brees.

Payton made his living (and won a Super Bowl) with Brees as his quarterback. Yes, Brees and Wilson are similar in stature, but that is where the similarities end. Brees was one of the most accurate QBs in NFL history. His 67.7% completion rate is second all-time, only behind Joe Burrow.

Wilson, on the other hand, has a 64.6% rate, and last season he was down to 60.5%. The current Broncos starter also led the league in taking sacks in 2022 with 55. Brees always got the ball out quickly, only taking more than 30 sacks twice in his career and taking fewer than 20 seven times.

The current Broncos QB has a huge contract that Denver can’t really get out of until after the 2025 season. That said, it seems like Payton won’t be afraid to make a change and put his $242 million signal-caller on the bench if he doesn’t get what he wants out of him.

Live and breathe the NFL?

🚨 Get viral NFL graphics, memes, rumors and trending news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

This is why quarterback Jarrett Stidham is the most interesting Broncos’ free agent signing in the 2023 NFL free agency period.

If Payton wanted a QB to sit in the quarterback room with Wilson and only come in if there was an injury emergency, he could have stuck with Brett Rypien or brought back an aging veteran like Teddy Bridgewater. However, bringing in a young (26) QB that both the New England Patriots and Raiders saw as possibly having starting potential like Jarrett Stidham suggests that Payton is planning to possibly pull the trigger on a QB switch if Wilson doesn’t play well.

Stidham is a pocket passer who, in his two starts last year, had a 63.9 completion rate behind a bad offensive line in Las Vegas. Despite looking much more like a traditional NFL signal-caller at 6-foot-3, 214 pounds than Wilson or Brees, Stidham has some similarities to Brees, with a quick release and accurate ball.

As a young player, it will also be much easier for Payton to have confidence that Stidham will run the play as called, unlike Wilson, who loves to freelance. In fact, that was one of the biggest issues in Denver last season. Wilson was the de facto offensive coordinator, changing the play in the huddle or at the line often.

For a play-caller like Nathaniel Hackett, who worked with a similarly freestyling QB in Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers, he was used to that. This year, it will be Sean Payton at the helm, who will want the plays executed as called from the sideline.

To make an entertainment comparison, Wilson is like a comedic actor working under Judd Apatow. He wants to ad-lib in the moment. Sean Payton is like Aaron Sorkin, who wants the actors to read his virtuoso lines exactly as written with no changes.

When Sorkin works with the right actors, it’s great. But you don’t see the illustrious writer working with Seth Rogan or Jonah Hill because their styles don’t mesh.

Maybe Sean Payton and Russell Wilson will find a way to merge styles and become a cohesive unit. If not, though, Jarrett Stidham is the sneakiest Broncos free agent signing of the 2023 NFL free agency period because he could find himself as the starter at some point this season.