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John Elway calls Case Keenum a “short-term fix” at quarterback

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Elway said Case Keenum ain’t it. Where do the Denver Broncos go from here heading into the 2019 offseason?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
Case Keenum will be looking over his shoulder for months.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

While the news about Kubes, Munchak and Scangarello got all of the pub Monday, this quote by Elway got buried a bit. It shouldn’t have.

John Elway says Case Keenum ‘is probably a short-term fix,’ so will Broncos target QB in 2019 NFL Draft? - CBSSports.com

”[W]e’ve got to -- Case is probably a short-term fix -- find the long-term guy for us,” Elway told Peter King of “Football Morning in America.” “When we do find that guy, we’ve got to have the continuity on the offensive side to where we can train him and develop him and get him there. This is our fourth offense in probably three or four years. Quarterbacks need to be developed. You don’t find one ready-made. We got to have a solid system in place for when we do go after whatever guy it may be, a young guy or a trade or whatnot.”

It probably should have been obvious back when Elway said that he was going to shake some trees to see if a quarterback earlier this month, but let there be no doubt: The Broncos are back to big game hunting at the game’s most important position.

Who’s the target?

Carson Wentz

As a bit of a trial balloon, I threw a poll out during the playoff games Sunday to see how Broncos fans would react to a hypothetical Wentz trade. Nearly 80% of you supported the idea of trading for the 2nd overall pick. Debate got a bit more heated when I suggested it would cost 2 first rounders, and for good reason.

If you’re the Broncos, 2 first rounders seems steep until you realize Wentz is only 26 years old and has already thrown for over 10 thousand yards and 70 touchdowns in his young career. He’s thrown an interception on just 1.9% of his passes and has looked like the textbook franchise quarterback when he’s been on the field. Additionally, he would hit the cap for less than $10 million in 2019.

Of course, if you’re the Eagles 2 first rounders may seem perfect considering the fact that Wentz has had multiple injury issues crop up since 2015. Any one of them could be little more than really bum luck, but taken together they build a bit of a laundry list that makes his $26.2 million option year as well as a huge money extension scarier than it should be for such a talented player.

Joe Flacco

If you’re looking for a proven veteran without sacrificing draft picks, Flacco’s the guy. He’s played in 163 games over his NFL career and has only missed time to injury in 2018 and ‘15. During that time he’s thrown for just over 38,000 yards and 200 touchdowns while completing 61.7% of his passes. John Harbaugh called him the best quarterback in Ravens’ history and for good reason: Baltimore doesn’t win Super Bowl XLVII without Rahim Moore Joe Flacco.

So why is he available? In one word: cost. In a couple sentences: his production has failed to keep up with his exorbitant cap number. Following the Super Bowl run, Flacco signed a 6-year, $120.6 million deal that was so ugly that the Ravens had to extend it in 2015 to try and spread out the cap hits. As it stands, the Ravens will eat a cool $16 million dollars if they cut Flacco this offseason. Lamar Jackson looked promising enough during his rookie season to push Flacco out the door anyways, and all reports suggest the 33-year old will hit the market.

It is worth noting that Baltimore’s front office remains optimistic that they’ll be able to trade Flacco and while that may be the case, I’m a bit dubious. Teams know he’s gone and while it only takes one to make an offer; the fact that his cost is so onerous and the Ravens all but need to move him will hurt their negotiating power.

So why should the Broncos make a deal? I’ve been highly critical of any such talk, personally. Flacco looked like a shell of his former self for the two seasons following his back injury. Last year he looked better, but a 33-year old who’s QBR hasn’t crossed the 60 mark since 2014 for $20 million? Hard pass for me.

Teddy Bridgewater

If you like the great unknown, Teddy B could be just what the doctor ordered. Back in 2015, the Vikings first round quarterback completed 65% of his passes for 3231 yards and 14 touchdowns in an offense ill suited to his talents. If not for Blair Walsh pulling for a Cody Parkely, Minnesota beats the Seattle Seahawks and advance to the divisional round of the playoffs.

2016 was the year everything was supposed to come together for Teddy’s Vikings, only to see him suffer one of the more grotesque leg injuries this side of Alex Smith. Some wondered if it would be career ending, but almost 2 seasons of recovery later Bridgewater threw passes in an NFL game. During the 2018 offseason he was a buy low option for the Jets who played so well in the preseason New York traded him for a third rounder to a the New Orleans Saints.

Prior to week 17, Bridgewater was a sought out man. The preseason form fresh in the minds of the media, word on the street seemed to be that Teddy would test the market after the Saints season ended and become a starter in 2019. Then he filled in for a resting Drew Brees and looked ho-hum against the Carolina Panthers, which has cast his future in doubt.

In many ways, Teddy Bridgewater is a bit like Colin Kaepernick. People’s views on the two often say more about who they are as players and more about the people speaking. I’m personally a fan of both, but wouldn’t hand $10+ million in starter money to either in 2019. A smart team could do worse than give Bridgewater a chance to compete for a starting job in camp with an incentive laden deal worked out, but a desperate team will probably make him and they look silly this spring.

All signs are it won’t be Elway and the Broncos.

Nick Foles

The magic man. How you feel about Foles probably speaks volumes about your belief in the intangibles and how important they are to the quarterback position. Anyone who’s paid attention knows that Nick Foles beat Tom Brady’s Patriots in a shootout fashion last February. Did you know he’s also been a Pro Bowler?

Everyone knows about the run Foles made last year, but his numbers this season in relief of Carson Wentz may be more remarkable. The 7-year veteran completed 72.3% of his passes for 7 touchdowns and 4 picks during the regular season as he helped steer the Eagles back into the playoffs. If not for an Alshon Jeffrey error on the potential go ahead drive, he’s still playing for the Lombardi. Simply put, he’s been the best story in football for two years.

That doesn’t mean the Broncos should sell the farm to sign him though. Elway’s already tried magic men and if Case Keenum lived up to the fairy dust, Denver wouldn’t be doing the QB dance again so soon. Foles has improved during his tenure in Philadelphia, but outside of a green jersey he’s looked abysmal. Combine that with the fact that he’ll cost in excess of $15-20 million on the open market in 2019? You’re betting a lot of futures on the hope that he isn’t fool’s gold.

The Rookie well

Probably the safest option from a monetary perspective, though perhaps a bit unsettling from the talent perspective. Word has been that this may be the weakest QB crop since E.J. Manuel was the only first round quarterback in the 2013 draft. You’ll hear often that the same was said about the 2017 class that produced Deshaun Watson, Patrick Mahomes and Mitch Trubisky, but I can promise you its nothing more than a narrative.

This year’s class is now headlined by Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins. Fitting, as the two finished the season 1-2 for Heisman voting. Both were 1-year starters for their respective franchises and both come with serious questions. Haskins played in an Urban Meyer offense and had shaky accuracy at times during the 2018 season while Kyler Murray could stand at as little as 5’9. The fact that they headline the class should speak volumes.

Beyond those two is the quarterback Elway and the Broncos have been linked to most often so far: Missouri’s Drew Lock. The 6’4 22-year old looks the part and has the kind of numbers to suggest he’s far safer than the bigger names. A redshirt junior, he’s thrown for 12,193 yards and 99 touchdowns in his collegiate years to just 39 interceptions. There are questions, however. Some have noted that his mechanics and poise under pressure leaves a lot to be desired. He’s also completed just 56.9% of his passes during his career, a glaring red flag that would be damning for me, if not for the fact that it jumped every year of his career; from 49% as a freshman to 62.9% last season.

There are definitely other names to watch: Duke’s Daniel Jones has garnered some first round hype. Buffalo’s Tyree Jackson, North Dakota State’s Easton Stick and Boise State’s Brett Rypien could all surprise. In a way, the numerous possibilities have led to one elementary certainty for Elway.

The quarterback decision will define the Denver Broncos going forward.

Your Broncos Links

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Solak Mock Draft 4.0 - The Draft Network

10. Denver Broncos Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State I don’t condone the pick, but it’s the best QB on the board — just hope GM John Elway and whoever ends up being his offensive coordinator agree with me. That Vic Fangio hire is swell, and he may push to add a disruptive interior force (Jeffery Simmons), rangy LB (Devin White) or Chris Harris replacement (Byron Murphy) — but QB is the trump card here. Haskins will be better after a year of development, and I think he’ll have that time as Denver rebuilds their offensive line and settles under a new head coach. Haskins and second-year WR DaeSean Hamilton could become something fun, given their relative strengths.

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