In recent years, the strategy of going “all-in” to build a championship team has paid massive dividends, whereas building through the draft is a process that requires patience.
The quarterback-needy Denver Broncos acquired former Seahawk Rusell Wilson earlier this month in a blockbuster trade. Ever since the retirement of Peyton Manning, it seemed as if the Broncos were a quarterback away from being a contender in the AFC. Now they finally have their guy.
Like the Rams trading for Matthew Stafford, this embodies the spirit of going all-in rather than consistently building through the draft. Though teams that build through the draft can find long-term success, more often immediate success is found via the trade market. In the 2021 offseason, the Rams thought they were a quarterback away from contending for a Lombardi Trophy. Once they traded for Matthew Stafford, they immediately got an offense no defensive coordinator wanted to scheme as an opponent. They ended up taking up winning the Super Bowl.
Though the Broncos are among the league's best in skill position players, the lack of a franchise quarterback held their talented weapons back. With Wilson under center at quarterback, receivers Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton should both have career years. A general manager needs to be aware of the offensive weapons at his disposal and to upgrade the quarterback to maximize those talents—and that’s what Denver’s George Paton did.
In the 2021 season, the Broncos were a mediocre team that lacked offensive firepower on a game-to-game basis. The lack of offensive explosion was not due to their young pass-catchers, it was due to their quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater. While not a terrible QB, he doesn’t have the arm talent to make big plays frequently. With Wilson, Denver’s offense should be much more exciting to watch. Had the Broncos drafted a rookie or kept Bridgewater, Jeudy and Sutton would have less of a chance to thrive before their rookie contracts were up.
For many years to come, the more aggressive teams in the trade market and free agency will always have a better chance of winning a super bowl. For example, in Tom Brady's first year with the Buccaneers, they took home the Lombardi Trophy a year after winning seven games with Jameis Winston in 2019. Trading future assets while going "all-in" can be a risky long-term scenario, it typically gives a team a much better championship window.