Broncos Mailbag: If Aaron Rodgers is traded to Denver, would talent around him be Super Bowl-quality?

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Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag periodically during the offseason. Submit questions to Ryan here.

Why do fans always seem to believe that highly touted draft prospects are a better choice than proven veterans (especially at quarterback position)? Do they not learn from history? To remind everyone that Teddy Bridgewater is not such a bad deal, can you please type the names: Ryan Leaf, Jamarcus Russell, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Josh Rosen, Johnny Manziel (feel free to add a few more)?

— Alan, Belize

I don’t care about past quarterback history.

For every one of those busts, I mention Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton — solid top-10 picks. I have no problem with the Bridgewater trade and I would have really liked it if he would have served as a bridge to Justin Fields.

Among the quarterbacks Alan mentioned, Leaf (Chargers), Russell (Raiders) and Smith (Bengals) joined dysfunctional organizations. Couch was on an expansion team. Manziel was an off-the-field circus. And Rosen was a victim of a new coaching staff having the top overall pick (Kyler Murray).

I’ll compliment the Broncos: Their infrastructure would have been set up well for Fields. Should-be-very-good defense. Could-be-very-good rookie running back (Javonte Williams). Should-be good skill-position crew. And Bridgewater to hold down the fort until Fields is ready.

What was the point of the Broncos’ free agency period and signing all those defensive backs if they then decide to draft Pat Surtain II? The pick should have been Justin Fields. All day, every day.

— JD Daniels, Lone Tree

It was a conversation some of us in the Broncos’ media corps had late Thursday night when reviewing the first round. It seems like the Broncos were transfixed on Surtain starting in early February and they didn’t pivot off that even when they signed Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller.

But from the Broncos’ angle, they looked at Surtain as a decade-long, shut-down corner, and they know Fuller/Bryce Callahan are in the final year of their contracts.

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When they decided Fields wasn’t the The Guy at No. 9, the Broncos didn’t overthink the Surtain selection.

How much of not picking Justin Fields is because John Elway still has a lot of influence on the draft? He takes a chance on Paxton Lynch and Justin Fields falls into their lap and they pass?

— Mark, Thornton

I don’t believe Elway influenced the decision at all. I was amused about why it was a big deal that Paton included Elway in the evaluation process. Well, why not take advantage of his nearly four decades of NFL experience as a player and executive?

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterbacks coach Mike Shula might have had their opinion heard more because they went to Fields’ pro day, grinded away on his tape, and presented their reports to Paton.

I know Broncos Country was let down that general manager George Paton didn’t select a quarterback. However, isn’t it more likely that any trade for Rodgers wouldn’t involve a draft pick from 2021 considering any trade for him would occur post June 1? This would allow the Packers to spread the cap hit over this season and next. Shouldn’t Broncos Country stay patient and hope that Paton has a deal in principle that will materialize after the draft?

— Brandon Brown, Rogers, Minn.

Once the Rodgers bombshell landed a few hours before last Thursday’s first round, I never thought he would be traded that night. The Packers dug in and basically said, “Just because you want to be traded tonight doesn’t mean we have to do it.”

One theory being kicked around was the Broncos would trade down from No. 9 to stack up trade assets to a) make a deal Friday morning so the Packers could use some of those picks or b) make a trade to get a 2022 first and more that they could use for a future Rodgers trade.

Here’s the math on the Packers trading Rodgers per Over The Cap: A pre-June 1 trade would cost $38.356 million in cap space (untenable), but that drops to $21.152 million if the deal is done on June 1 and beyond.

How realistic is it to expect Aaron Rodgers to come to Denver? It’s absolutely an instant upgrade over our current situation. But do we have the talent to win the Super Bowl? We still need more help at inside linebacker and right tackle.

— Eric, Aurora

I won’t use “realistic” to discuss this scenario so let’s go with “doable.” And yes, it would be an absolute upgrade for the entire offense and the Broncos have the talent to surround Rodgers to allow him to get to the playoffs.

If you’re Rodgers, you should like the Broncos’ situation at left tackle (Garett Bolles), running back (rookie Javonte Williams), receiver (Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick) and tight end (Noah Fant). If the Packers want only draft picks in return, that group would return intact.

On your point about inside linebacker and right tackle, it was a good weekend for Justin Strnad (linebacker) and Calvin Anderson (backup tackle). Third-round pick Baron Browning will get a chance to work at inside linebacker.

Were you surprised George Paton didn’t draft a single quarterback, especially with Justin Fields falling in his lap at No. 9? Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater don’t exactly scream “playoff-bound” in my book.

— Tyler Dunn, Fort Collins

I was surprised the Broncos passed over Fields, but after that, I wasn’t surprised they didn’t take a quarterback in rounds 2-7.

The Broncos’ plan (save for a Rodgers trade) crystallized over the weekend: They want to win with defense and an opportunistic offense.

Hey Ryan, love your coverage. Who do you think will make the biggest impact from this draft this next year? Pat Surtain II seems like he’s walking into a Bradley Roby-type situation where he can give the Broncos a luxury behind Ronald Darby and Kyle Fuller. My money’s on Javonte Williams.

— Carlos, Northglenn

Surtain may be the Broncos’ best cornerback by Week 4, creating the intriguing situation of which cornerback sees his playing time cut?

Williams is a good chance because the Broncos traded up in the second round to get him and teams don’t do that to take a role player. He will get every chance to be the main back when the season opens.

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag periodically during the offseason. Submit questions to Ryan here.

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