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Is the ‘juice worth the squeeze’ to go after Stafford?

Andrew Mason talks with Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright at the Senior Bowl about the Broncos’ best options for quarterback in coming seasons.

Denver Broncos v Detroit Lions Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Andrew Mason joined Ryan Edwards and Benjamin Allbright in their “Senior Bowl studio” Tuesday night to talk about the first practice and assess some of the players who could be worth a second- or third-round look from the Broncos in the upcoming NFL Draft.

But believe it or not, Mase is also interested in watching the quarterbacks - mainly because the direction the Broncos go next season at QB is presumably up in the air.

He’ll be paying attention to Alabama’s Mac Jones and Georgia’s Jamie Newman as outside possibilities, especially if the Broncos trade back from No. 9.

Obviously the big question mark right now is whether the Broncos will enter the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes.

To Mase, the cost benefit analysis on that doesn’t work out in the Broncos’ favor.

Sure, Stafford would be an immediate upgrade and could probably get the Broncos to 10-6, 11-5 next season and in the Wild Card talk.

But with “a juggernaut winning the division” the next few years before facing major cap issues, will second place in the AFC West, perennially behind the Chiefs, be good enough after giving up major opportunities to improve over the long haul?

Mase says no.

Believing it will take a “first rounder plus” to win the competition for a trade to get Stafford, Mase disagrees that the short-term improvement would be smart. As Allbright and Mase agreed, “the juice is not worth the squeeze.”

But added into this, Mase considers the 2022 quarterback class stronger than the current one, so he’s in favor of keeping Drew Lock, getting a veteran to push him and finding out once and for all next season if No. 23 is going to be the franchise guy.

If yes, awesome. If no, go after one of the top five in 2022.

“I still think that’s the best way to go,” he said. “I know people are down on the 2022 QB draft class. I’m not. So you can actually afford to be patient.”

Plus, Mase recognizes that the window to really compete with the Chiefs is in a few years when Kansas City has to start unloading a lot of the talent around Patrick Mahommes.

“Broncos have a better chance of pushing the Chiefs and being a legit Super Bowl contender if you’re looking at 2023, 24, 25,” he said. “And I think George Paton is smart enough to understand that.”

Like many in Broncos Country, Mase sees cornerback and possibly inside linebacker as likely position needs for the Broncos with some possibilities available among the college ranks. Though linebacker may be more of a need in 2022, Mase likes the idea of bringing in raw talent to develop for after Alexander Johnson’s time in Denver.

And a player he sees “with upside” is Chazz Surratt, an inside linebacker at North Carolina who has the athleticism

“He’s raw. Only been a linebacker a couple of years. Very smart. Athletic with 4.5 speed. He can bring it in coverage. He’s a little small at 227 pounds, so you’ll want him to put on some weight,” Mason said. “But if you bring him in and incubate him for a year, in two to three years you could be looking at somebody who is one of the better inside linebackers. He clearly has all the tools.”

Surratt, who had gone to the Tar Heels as quarterback, changed to linebacker with two years left of eligibility.

Having experience looking at the field as the QB, Surratt’s instincts as an inside linebacker are sharp, Mase notes.

“He has the intelligence to be that quarterback on the defensive side because he was the quarterback on the offensive side. He sees how everything integrates,” Mase said, adding that he just needs more technical improvement as he gets comfortable with the position. “Sometimes he’s still learning how to read what’s thrown at him.”