Good morning, Broncos Country!
So...you want to talk about A.J. McCarron? :)
The greatest thing about this time of the offseason is that there are so many possibilities with how the team could look in a few months, but each potential scenario is highly fluid and dependent on a single move - or not - in free agency to set it all in motion.
And this season, perhaps more than many in the recent past, has the Broncos looking down a slew of potential paths, depending on which domino falls first.
Does Kirk Cousins really come to Denver, necessitating a fire sale of elite-but-expensive talent while looking to the draft to bring in a top-notch running back and corner?
Does a different veteran QB come to Denver, still requiring some elite wide receiver talent but dictating greater need for a free agent tackle just to be safe? Will this translate into getting a better-than-last-year-but-still-mediocre offense yet keeping an elite defense?
Do the Broncos go all in on a rookie quarterback and set the rebuilding in motion now, accepting certain mediocrity in hopes of dazzling dominance in a year or two?
Will Joe Thomas ever leave the Browns? (ok, that one isn’t so intriguing at this point).
So many choices. So silly to get worked up speculating on different scenarios.
But why should that stop us? Speculation in a long offseason is all we’ve really got, after all.
While I’m envious of those of you who feel strongly one way or the other on the Cousins v. Draft Pick v. Other QB debate, being wishy-washy on this one allows me to accept whatever outcome we end up with much easier. But I certainly have some preferences, so let’s start there.
Favorite free agency v. draft scenarios
1 - Broncos sign Kirk Cousins; trade down for more first-round picks
Prior to news that Broncos could consider trading down with the Bills, giving up their No. 5 pick for Buffalo’s No. 21 and 22 picks, I would have argued for signing Cousins and drafting Saquon Barkley (partly because Ian St. Clair and Adam Malnati made a nice argument for this on a recent podcast but ALSO because every team should have a player with as cool a name as Saquon).
But the idea of getting two guys in the first round along with a top-tier QB like Cousins really seems more and more like a no-brainer.
This kind of scenario could yield the Broncos a solid quarterback plus some O-line talent like Will Hernandez or Orlando Brown and maybe fortify the defense with a linebacker or wide receiver (in my best-case scenario, Broncos keep Aqib Talib and let Emmanuel Sanders walk if they need to reserve cash/cap space for Cousins).
2a - Broncos sign Cousins; draft Saquon Barkley at No. 5
I do like this pairing. Bringing in Cousins and then having a likely game-changer in the run game would be about the best “fix” for the Broncos’ offensive woes as it would truly have a “1-2 punch” effect.
With Cousins plus a top running back like Barkley, Broncos probably don’t need both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders but likely do need one of their paychecks back. Unloading Sanders and keeping DT - maybe even restructuring D.T.’s contract - unfortunately means losing a great receiver. But it also means unloading a bit of a lockerroom diva who has frequently been hurt and is certainly not getting any younger.
With the offense in much better shape after the first round, the Broncos could focus on O-line and filling a few defensive holes at linebacker, interior lineman and possibly in the secondary as well.
2b - Broncos draft Baker Mayfield and hold on for a wild ride
It’s been a long time since Broncos rolled with a rookie that “went all in” on and held on through the lows but rejoiced as the highs came closer and closer together.
Pretty much hasn’t happened since 1983.
And if it weren’t for Von Miller and Chris Harris Jr. - two players who have been Broncos from day one, have anchored this elite defense and who deserve better than being on a team taking its lumps with a rookie - I would probably love this scenario the most.
I have to admit to not having watched film on any of the other top QB draft picks, other than random tweets with random videos of throws or highlight reels.
But I did watch Mayfield in the Rose Bowl, and even though his Sooners ultimately lost that game in double overtime, he never gave up trying to win. It was a fun game to watch, and his rallying was inspiring.
How fun would it be to have that in Denver? (s/o to my friend Brandon Quinn for reminding me how much I loved doing that with Elway).
2017 Heisman Trophy Winner, Baker Mayfield pic.twitter.com/8SjNmez5kf— College Town™ (@CollegeT0wn) February 15, 2018
1 - Signing a mediocre-talent QB and drafting a QB for the future
This has merit, for sure (depending on the “mediocre” quarterback in question). It would cost less and possibly (hopefully) set the Broncos up for a long future of a thriving offense.
My fear with this plan is that the Broncos end up in Rams’ “7-9 bullsh*t” territory, a la Jeff Fisher, for several years first.
A pretty good quarterback with an improving offensive line with a few offensive weapons will win some games, lose some games. But this outcome seems even more unpalatable for players like Miller and Harris and Talib who have already wasted two years on “mediocre.” At least a promising rookie who has franchise-caliber talent will likely gain the trust of the defense.
I doubt a Kyle Orton 2.0 (or 3.0??) has that power.
1 - Drafting a bust in the first round
Obviously, ensuring success of a first-round draft pick is impossible, and every draft pick is ultimately a gamble on what they’ll be able to do coming to the pros from college.
I trust John Elway & Co. will do their homework - like, really do their homework and not just pick guys they like - so we don’t end up with another rookie quarterback whose ceiling is much lower than expected and becomes a huge waste in the first round, hurting the Broncos’ chances at a winning season for years to come.
this is exactly the type of thing that's gonna get him drafted entirely too high, but damn it, it's cool to see Josh Allen hit the crossbar from the 50 on his knees pic.twitter.com/plMnG8oVDM— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) February 20, 2018
2 - Status quo.
As much I don’t like the above scenario, this one would be worse.
No matter who the Broncos bring in for quarterback next season, it better not be a guy already on the roster.
I definitely fall into the camp that the Broncos didn’t do all they could to develop Lynch so he could have attempted being a starter. And Lynch didn’t help things by being himself - which is just a goofy, happy-go-lucky kid who probably loves football but doesn’t breathe football.
But given how things turned out, and given that Trevor Siemian needs to not be a tempting option for coaches who like to play it safe, both QBs need to go. I’d be in favor of keeping Brock Osweiler as backup. He’s capable and probably still inexpensive. And he’d be especially useful if Broncos go the rookie QB route.
Where Chad Kelly fits in this mix is anyone’s guess, but if he’s able to capitalize on all the hype surrounding him, then he may be the steal of the century from the 2017 NFL Draft and a possible genius move from Elway.
But enough about my views. What are your favorite/least-favorite scenarios for the Broncos as they relate to free agency and the draft?
Which Broncos player/Winter Olympic sport pairing would be the best to watch?
This poll is closed
Aqib Talib - biathlon
Von Miller - ice dancing
Jordan Taylor - halfpipe snowboarding
Shaquil Barrett - curling
Jake Butt - luge
Horse Tracks - docllv’s pick of the day
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