Since before free agency started earlier this month, the Denver Broncos have been linked via media speculation (at the very least), but at most via actual interest to Robert Griffin III. However, with the announcement today of Griffin's signing with the Cleveland Browns, the media covering the Broncos has been quick to point out that of course there was never interest in Griffin.
I mean, had there been actual interest, Denver would have signed him...
There may have been reports suggesting otherwise, but John Elway did not want RGIII.— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) March 24, 2016
The issue with that thinking is the reports came from Gary Kubiak and something happened between the moment that Kubiak went live Tuesday on the NFL Network and early that afternoon when the Broncos distributed his quotes.
On Tuesday morning, during the NFL's annual league meeting, the coach of the Super Bowl 50 champs held a roundtable press conference where he addressed Denver's quarterback situation and free agency for the better part of 30 minutes.
On potentially bringing back RB Ronnie Hillman
"We’re looking at every option. He’s one of the free guys out there obviously. We evaluate them. Without me getting to into it, we have a priority on how we’re going about this. He’s obviously been part of the conversation. We’ll see what happens. He’s a talented young man. We’ll see what fits our team best."
See, media that wasn't present or watching live on NFL Network would get the transcript, gloss it over, yadda-yadda, Ronnie Hillman, yadda-yadda, see that there was not a quote about Peyton Manning nor Tim Tebow and move on with their day.
Except that wasn't Gary Kubiak responding about Hillman, he was asked a question about Robert Griffin III and he responded with the exact quote that Denver attributed to being about Hillman. Someone with the Broncos either misheard (which is unlikely, because both CBS and ESPN attributed the quote to being about Griffin) or simply did not want the idea that Denver was in the RGIII sweepstakes (and losing) out to the public.
Kubiak says they have evaluated RG3. Can't comment on Kaep b/c he's under contract w/ 49ers.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) March 22, 2016
That from Andrew Mason, who was sitting next to Kubiak when he was asked about Griffin at the NFL Annual Meeting.
Kubiak would go on to discuss nearly every free agent that has left the Broncos via free agency and is currently under contract with other teams.
Here is why it is important - Griffin was on Denver's radar, as Kubiak said. They evaluated him, and Kubiak had a lot of good things to say about Griffin at that very press conference, "I'm sure he's looking for the best possible opportunity for himself. Guys like that bounce back, they've done good things before, and they expect to do good things again."
Now, the only quote from Kubiak about Griffin that was supplied to the media by the Broncos on Tuesday was this:
On if the team has any interest in free-agent QB Robert Griffin III
"I’m not going to discuss who we’re going to bring in or any of those things. I can just say we’ve evaluated everybody who is out there."
Why would he want to discuss a free agent? Free agency isn't for another...
Meanwhile, to close out the Winter, Denver has been linked to nearly every quarterback, available or not, on the market. A slow-burning act of treason by those that are in charge of who gets signed by the Broncos.
My speculation is that when Denver doesn't trade for Colin Kaepernick there will be even more quotes omitted from press conferences.
As for what the Broncos are actually up to - they have around $2 million in cap space currently, and they need more than $6 million to sign their draft class. Cutting Ryan Clady will free up almost $9.5 million in cap space. Now, $11.5-million in free cap space won't allow for much, but it will allow for more than Denver can currently afford.
What the Broncos can afford are draft picks and the option of trading forward in the draft. This Broncos 2016 1st and 2nd round draft picks and 2017's 1st round draft pick can get Denver high enough in the draft for nearly any quarterback, except maybe Carson Wentz.
Really a trade like that dumps a whole lot of salary cap issues for at least the next four to five seasons and to be fair, name a second round pick from the last five drafts that has been worth much to Denver. Name a Broncos first round pick that has been more productive than a starting quarterback would be? Von Miller is the only player that comes to mind and Denver got him as the second overall pick in 2011.
Wentz is currently being mocked almost unanimously to Cleveland.
The Browns just signed Robert Griffin III...
Has anyone mentioned that Denver possibly had no interest in Griffin?
"I’m very impressed with Carson Wentz. He does everything you want a guy to do. He’s under center, he’s in the shotgun formation, he moves around and he throws the ball on the move," Kubiak said during that very same press conference on Tuesday.
"I like the way he went to the Senior Bowl and elevated his play. I just like watching him practice. I’m probably just like a lot of guys. I think he’s going to be a really good pro and he’s got a bright future."
I think that there was interest in Griffin on behalf of the Broncos, but to put it simply, it may not have been the kind of interest that gets a guy signed in Denver. It was the kind of interest on behalf of the Broncos that gets a guy signed in Cleveland.