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DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals passes for a first quarter touchdown against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 19, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
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Schlereth: The Broncos should target Andy Dalton as new QB

(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Let us start here: The Denver Broncos are at least three good years of roster building away from being truly competitive. After four-straight losing seasons, a fancy new quarterback like Deshaun Watson seems like the easiest way to get back on the winning track. For this team, it’s not.

I called three Broncos games this season, against the Buccaneers, the Saints and the Bills. Denver was routed all three times. What stood out preparing for those games, then calling them, was how weak the Broncos talent was compared to other teams I had examined.

Four of the Broncos five starting offensive linemen are deficient, their athletic tight end isn’t a complete football player and their two rookie receivers led the league in drop percentage. And that’s just the offense. Broncos Country, this isn’t a group that’s simply a quarterback away.

Now don’t get me wrong, Watson is a fantastic young quarterback. It’s just not the right time for the Broncos to give up valuable draft capital. George Paton has far too much work to do rebuilding this roster. He’s going to need every draft pick and every salary cap dollar that he can get his hands on.

Enter “The Red Rifle” – Andy Dalton.

Why Dalton? Let’s start by looking at the Kansas City Chiefs. All the Chiefs did was draft Patrick Mahomes and suddenly found themselves competing for championships right? Wrong. The Chiefs are the perfect example of roster building.

When Andy Reid arrived in Kansas City, he traded for veteran Alex Smith to help stabilize the team while he got to work building their roster. That roster building included Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Chris Jones, Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher. Those core pieces, along with several others, were already in place by the time Mahomes took over in 2018. For the five seasons prior while the roster was built and developed, Smith more than steadied their ship with a 50-26 record and four trips to the playoffs.

Dalton should be Paton’s Smith.

He’s a free agent, so he won’t cost any draft capital to acquire. Dalton’s career record is eight games over .500, and he played admirably last year in nine starts for Dallas, filling in for Dak Prescott. He’d be the perfect veteran quarterback to take over for Drew Lock while Paton begins plugging away at the holes on the roster.

The Broncos next shiny new sports car at quarterback can wait a few years. Give me that trusty old sedan with 150,000 miles on it that just gets us from point A to point B safely. In red, of course.