3 trades that could save the Broncos and keep Sean Payton from retiring again

Despite a disappointing start, the Broncos can still turn their season around. Here are three ideal trade targets.

Dec 18, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson (33) reacts.
Dec 18, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson (33) reacts. / Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
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Trades that could save the Broncos: 1. CB Jaylon Johnson

The Broncos were lit up for 70 points last Sunday. It represented a massive drop-off for the unit, which was elite only a year ago. In 2022, they allowed the fewest opponent points per game through nine games (16.5).

The Week 3 embarrassment is not the only cause for concern, either. In Week 2, the Washington Commanders scored 35 points in a victory over the Broncos. In their two other games, the Commanders combined for 23 total points.

Yes, the defense has fallen off, but the situation is not hopeless. Safety Justin Simmons and defensive end Frank Clark are sidelined due to injuries. Clark is targeting a Week 5 return, while Simmons is listed as questionable for Week 4. Those are two Pro Bowl defenders, who could give this unit a boost soon.

What the Broncos are truly missing is another starting-caliber cornerback. Patrick Surtain II is capable of elite play, but the team is missing a reliable option across from him. When this secondary was thriving in previous seasons, they had proven veteran cornerbacks such as Ronald Darby and Bryce Callahan. Fourth-year cornerback Jaylon Johnson would be a perfect fit.

Johnson became extension eligible in January, but a deal has still not been reached. The Chicago Bears could mirror the Roquan Smith trade by moving Johnson for future draft capital.

This season, Johnson is allowing an opponent passer rating of 57.4 when targeted. The 24-year-old could be a key defensive piece for the franchise for years to come.

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