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When Sean Payton took over as the head coach for the Denver Broncos last offseason, it was immediately clear that one of two things was going to happen: Either Payton was going to turn Russell Wilson's career back around after his disastrous 2022 season, or the Broncos were going to move on from Wilson as soon as possible. Toward the end of this season, we seemed to get our answer.

The Broncos benched Wilson in favor of backup Jarrett Stidham to avoid a possible injury and triggering further guarantees in his contract, and it sure seems like they're going to cut ties at their first opportunity. Given a chance to address Wilson's future with the Broncos (or lack thereof) this week at the Super Bowl, Payton did not exactly sound like someone who expected to be coaching Russ for years to come.

"Fair question," Payton said during an appearance on Up & Adams. "I think this. It used to be in our league where there was no free agency. You'd have a draft, three rookies would beat out three veterans, and you took the same team to the regular season that you had the year before. It's much different now. I think when the season ends for these teams, we take our puzzle and flip it upside down, and all the pieces get spread out again. We look at the salary cap, we look at where we're at with our own free agents, we look at whose in the draft, where we pick, how many draft picks we have, and we begin this puzzle again. I really believe that. This idea that we're going to pick up from where we left off that's all BS. That's not the case."

That ... is not all that clear. And it's especially unclear how it relates to Wilson specifically. But Payton continued.

"We start draft meetings on Monday," Payton said. "Everything you've heard and read about us, 'Oh, we're going to trade up, trade down.' I can't tell you the jersey numbers of these rookie quarterbacks. We haven't even seen them yet. So our plan, to do this thing the right way is to really assess the quarterback position. Are we going to be able to find it in the draft, are we going to find it in free agency, or is it in the building? I think that decision is going to happen quicker than later relative to Russ."

The Broncos own the No. 12 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft -- likely outside the range to secure one of the top prospects. But Payton doesn't see an issue with that. "If we like one of these guys a lot, then I'm unconcerned where people think we should draft them," he said. Adams then asked him if he was looking to "fall in love" with a QB prospect, and Payton responded that he was.

It sounds like the Broncos are looking primarily to the draft for their quarterback, then, which makes sense, because they will be taking on a ton of dead money on their salary cap by parting ways with Wilson, and that might make it untenable to acquire another veteran. Payton has pretty much only had veteran QBs during his time as a head coach, with Drew Brees taking the significant majority of the snaps during Payton's days in New Orleans and Wilson running the show for his first season in Denver. Payton did play a role in Tony Romo's development in Dallas before he left to coach the Saints, but we haven't seen him develop a young quarterback in quite some time. It'll be interesting to see how that process goes, if the Broncos indeed take a quarterback in the draft.