ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- It's been a little more than a week since the Denver Broncos traded their most-decorated, most-tenured, most-everything player -- linebacker Von Miller -- to the Los Angeles Rams.
Following the trade the Broncos had their best win in years: 30-16 over the Dallas Cowboys. It upped the Broncos' record to 5-4 and has allowed them -- as general manager George Paton put it after he dealt Miller -- to "still get into the thick of it."
Look, really look, at the Miller trade, the current depth chart, Paton's steady acquisition of draft picks plus his philosophy, and it all has the Broncos positioned to take a swing at quarterback this offseason.
Asked last week if he made the Miller deal with the team's future at quarterback in mind, Paton said: "We want flexibility ... you don't want your hands cuffed. We won't. We'll be aggressive and you know that."
After consulting multiple executives around the league about the Broncos' cap situation in relation to salary cap projections, the Broncos will likely be somewhere among the league's top four in available space when the new football season begins in March. The Broncos already have 11 draft picks to use next April, with five of those likely in the top 100 after the two they received in exchange for Miller.
In short, they'll have money to spend and double-digit draft picks. Oh, and one of the younger rosters in the league that still might sneak into the playoffs this season. They've said since training camp they are a team on the rise, and that seems to be playing out.
"Nobody is surrendering here," is how Fangio put it just days before the Broncos romped in Dallas. "We talked to the team about that. We have confidence in the players that will step in for [Miller]. We have confidence in our team, and it still has the ability to improve a lot. That's what we're counting on. There's no surrender."
No matter how they finish this season, the Broncos face several decisions at quarterback. Current starter Teddy Bridgewater, who is on pace for career-bests in yards passing, completions, completion percentage and touchdowns, is in the last year of his deal and will be an unrestricted free agent.
That means 2022 will likely be the fifth consecutive season the Broncos open with a different starting quarterback than the year before. Fangio, Paton and Broncos players have been consistently aligned in support of Bridgewater this season, but Paton hasn't said much about Bridgewater's potential future with the Broncos beyond whatever the team can still make of this season.
When asked about the possibility of Drew Lock playing to aid his development -- before Lock went to the COVID-19 reserve list this past week -- Paton said simply:
"We feel like Teddy's our quarterback, Teddy's our leader and we feel like if we can play better around Teddy we'll get good results."
How many of those "good results" the team can get could certainly impact who they eventually pursue or who would eventually want to come to Denver, either via trade or free agency. By trading Miller, Paton has given the Broncos cap freedom and draft assets to pursue a QB.
"We have a lot of flexibility," Paton said. "... We really can do whatever we want."