As I’ve said multiple times, the Broncos should consider all options possible at improving the quarterback position. They should be talking with as many agents and as many teams as possible in order to do it.
But I also think that Broncos fans need to be aware to accept a very possible reality. That scenario is that there simply isn’t a veteran quarterback that is available to take the Broncos where they need to go. Beyond the fold, let’s run through many of the quarterbacks currently in the NFL and judge the likelihood that they’ll be available.
When Jason did his preview of free agent quarterbacks, he explicitly limited his analysis to quarterbacks that officially have expiring contracts. Before we get into why this was proper, let’s take a look at those quarterbacks. Three names stand far above all others: Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Drew Bress, with Case Keenum coming in a respectable fourth.
I think there’s a very good chance that all four of these quarterbacks may be unavailable to the Broncos.
- I’ve already explained the difficulties that will exist in acquiring Cousins.
- There is no way that San Francisco, with over $100 million in 2018 cap space, is going to let Garoppolo leave, especially after giving up a high 2nd round pick to get him. At worst, they will franchise tag him.
- Brees, meanwhile, does not appear inclined to finish his career anywhere but New Orleans.
- As for Keenum, he is one game away from going to a Super Bowl, and two games away from delivering starved Vikings fans what they’ve craved for the franchise’s entire existence. The Vikings also have about $50 million in cap space. Do not be surprised if Keenum is tagged, either with the franchise or transition designation, if he plays well this Sunday.
Who’s available after these four? Among the next four, there are two major injury concerns in Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, a 39 year old Josh McCown, and someone who has one foot in the broadcast booth in Jay Cutler. After that? Ryan Fitzpatrick, Drew Stanton, Geno Smith, Matt Moore, and so on. Do any of those names inspire you as a long term veteran solution for the Broncos? They don’t inspire me.
Now, you may retort that there will be quarterbacks that come available from being cut or put on the trade block. Tyrod Taylor, Alex Smith, Eli Manning, and so on. I’ve pondered the same possibility in the past, and John Elway should absolutely do his due diligence to investigate the same.
But know this, there are barriers to acquiring any quarterback currently under contract.
- The quarterback simply may not be made available. For one example, the Dolphins seem to be under no impression that they’re going to have anyone else but Ryan Tannehill at quarterback in 2018.
- The team that holds his rights may trade him to someone else. I’ll repeat this again with Smith as an example: why would the Chiefs give up a starting caliber quarterback to a division rival? And if they were willing to do, shouldn’t the Broncos be a bit suspicious of the motives, in that the Chiefs may no longer see him as starting caliber.
- If cut, the quarterback may want to sign somewhere else. If the Broncos aren’t willing to make the financial commitment that another team is offering, they may not get who they want. There may also be non-financial reasons why a quarterback would prefer another team to Denver. For one hypothetical, Manning may want to reunite with Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville over all other options.
Here’s the cold hard truth: it’s rare that long term starting veteran quarterbacks come on the market. The Broncos should not be defeatist in acknowledging this; they should leave no stone unturned. But they also need to be willing to accept the very real possibility that they could be the ones that have their seat pulled under them in this game of musical chairs.
This is why I generally advocate to acquire both a veteran and rookie quarterback. This is because, like it or not, the Broncos may have no choice but to get their quarterback of the future the old fashioned way: by using the 5th overall pick on one, and hope that pick’s a hit.