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Roundtable: What should the Denver Broncos do at quarterback?

So everyone’s been discussing the coaching position for so long that QB has kind of been on the afterburner, but with Vic Fangio and Gary Kubiak now on board, the guys at Mile High Report turned our eyes to Keenum and the quarterback situation today. We thought it’d be good to share our discussion with Broncos Country.

This conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and content.

Joe Rowles: Elway’s comments made it clear that Case is a short term option at the very best, so what do you think the Broncos will do now? I know specifically there’s been a lot of talk about Flacco, do you think the Broncos should pursue him?

Kevin Gillikin: What will the staff do? Seems like Keenum makes sense but I keep hearing people think Flacco. Obviously both have experience with Kubes.

Pete Baron: Keenum 100%.

Anybody who says Flacco, ask yourself this… Is Joe Flacco a $36.5 million dollar quarterback? If you’re stupid enough to say “yes”, then you want Flacco on our team. If you’re someone with even a flicker of intelligence (I’m not asking for even a decent amount, just a flicker of intelligence to the extent your family struggles pulling the plug cause you’re not 100% brain dead), then you’ll say Keenum.

Because we’d have to cut Keenum ($10 million in dead money) and trade for Flacco ($26.5m) PLUS the draft picks to trade…

Are you kidding me? On the open market as free agents, sure, Flacco will get the nod, but barely. Flacco is 5% better than Keenum. He really isn’t all that great. Each time we play the Ravens, we always bash how incredibly average/lucky Flacco is. That hasn’t changed just because we’re so damn thirsty for a QB that even the swamp water looks delicious.

Because Flacco is the swamp water, and you all are convincing yourself to take a swig cause you’re thirsty. Don’t kill yourself sipping that water. Keep walking the extra mile to that fresh spring that is right beyond the horizon (2020 draft).

Joe: I’m with Pete, but I get that Kubiak worked with him previously. Flacco is basically kicking the can down the road and it’s a ho-hum move.

Kevin: Agreed. I’m surprised I’ve seen/heard it…though I think at least once it was DMac.

JoRo: It’s been a few places and it does make some sense- the connections are there and Flacco fits the Elway mold but, it’d be a bad choice. Which is why I worry the Broncos will do it.

Pete: Yeah, it’s been a few places.

I think most of it honestly is the “media sensationalism because we have to fill time” so they just grab every scenario no matter how stupid it is, and spend the next 3 hours talking about it to generate listeners and fill time, or write a few pages about it to get it out for an article.

There’s only so much actual shit to talk about before you have to start making shit up just to fill time.

Tim Lynch: Ask yourself this. Would you rather be disappointed by Keenum for a second straight year or be disappointed by Flacco for one year?

Kevin: Definitely Keenum. He’s cheaper and could work in the system for the most part.

And it is good to throw out all possibilities…that’s what media does but some guys make it sound like a sure thing and that’s kind of dumb.

Tim: I don’t ever want to see Keenum underthrow a deep ball or throw a short out again, to be honest.

Kevin: Fair. Not the best options.

Tim: And I loathe Flacco.

Joe M: I used to live where Flacco played college and is still revered – and I loathe Flacco. Find a way to get Teddy Bridgewater here.

Kevin: But Keenum did look solid with the Minnesota Vikings, and Flacco was a Super Bowl MVP and had some KILLER playoff runs.

JoRo: I’d take Keenum over Flacco this year for one big rea$on.

Joe Maloney: Flacco has been riding that Super Bowl run more than any QB in history.

JoRo: Agreed, he’s been garbage for 3 years now.

Joe M: He and Eli Manning – living in the past.

Kevin: Totally agree Joe’s.

JoRo: Literally the only reason he was on the Ravens the last two years is because they couldn’t afford to cut him.

Jeff: Price being equal, I’d take Flacco all day.

JoRo: Same, but they aren’t.

Kevin: Keenum was solid in 17. But it can’t be equal since you have to pay Keenum too.

Tim: Keenum in 2018 made me want to claw my eyes out.

Christopher Hart: Don’t know if Denver will bite the bullet and cut Keenum since they’d have to pay him $10M in dead money. Savings is $11M. But that’s a big dead money hit.

If Marshall, Leary, and Stewart are cut this year DEN would only have 20 players (outside upcoming draft picks, RFA/ERFA, etc.) under contract for the 2020 season and have $135 Million in space.

So maybe Elway doesn’t really care about that hit.

Jeff: If we trade Keenum is his dead money hit better?

Joe M: Trade only incurs $3 Million cap hit, cut incurs $10 Million.

Jeff: Now that’s interesting. Let’s trade Keenum and have more cap room for a Bridgewater or Flacco.

JoRo: Who’d trade for him though?

Joe M: Problem is finding a willing trading partner since he’s a failed starter and a very expensive backup.

Jeff: Which is why we’re stuck with Keenum.

Kevin: Okay how about door number three – Teddy Bridgewater.

Kevin: Or door number four – rookie.

Jeff: Carson Wentz is my pipe dream.

Joe M: I’ve been advocating for Teddy B for months.

Kevin: Wentz is a nice thought. Would have to give up a lot for a guy who has been injured a lot. I like Teddy B too. He would be cheaper than Flacco, no doubt.

Jeff: I’d give up a first. Swap with Philly since our #10 and their #20ish will essentially be one first rounder value, next years first and this years 2nd.

Joe M: Teddy B would produce good results more quickly than a rookie.

Jeff: I’m just tired of undersized limited tools QBs. Siemian, Keenum, Bridgewater. They’re all athletically limited.

JoRo: Carson has been money when he’s healthy, only has 1 more year on that rookie deal though.

Joe M: Rookie would be cheaper if you are not assigning a dollar value to draft capitol. Wentz is the next Bradford. He’s a glass cannon.

JoRo: I still think the best option is sit tight for a year, build the team as best you can around Keenum, then get a rookie that can play. Then you have a 4 year Super Bowl window with that rookie deal.

Joe M: That’s definitely the “safest” option.

JoRo: It’s the smartest, to be honest, but it means pain in the short term.

Jeff: But this year we have the #10 pick. That likely gets worse next year.

Pete: Teddy Bridgewater looked like crap in his game with New Orleans… and it takes a special level of Siemian to make that New Orleans offense look like crap. Pass on Bridgewater. His time has come and gone. Backup only.

Kevin: A rookie in 2020 or 2019?

JoRo: Trade back this year to get a 2020 first. That’s what I’d do.

Jeff: Yeah I like the trade back. We should’ve made a move when we had #5.

Joe M: The journeyman QB fix rarely works historically.

Pete: I hate that I agree with Joe R so much, but trade out for an additional first round in 2020 and use that to get your QB. And Fangio will be smart to start that rookie QB because you’ll automatically get 2-3 years of “growing pains with your new QB” job security. Vance Joseph never realized that.

Kevin: Vance Joseph didn’t have that option with a rookie QB

Pete: He’d likely still be a head coach today if he started Lynch, because then we’d have gotten a rookie this year cause we’d have already cut Lynch and then VJ would have the built in “yes we lost a lot of games, but we have our future QB learning on the job” excuse.

Tim: Draft a defensive player at #10 then trade UP into the first round for that 5’9” QB everyone raves about. Kidding on that last part.

Joe M: I’m going on record to say I like the Teddy Bridgewater option best right now. Unless he is asking for crazy money, I’d say bring him in and either look to move Keenum to a team that needs an expensive, yet tested, backup QB, or just ride with both QBs in 2019. Keenum has a $21MM cap hit next season, second on the team to Von’s $25MM. If we can lure Teddy B with a contract that is south of 10 million (a prove your value kind of contract).

Tim: For me, I’m on the anyone but Case Keenum train. We’ve seen that story and it sucked. If I am going to be disappointed by our teams quarterback play, then I would prefer it be by a fresh faced guy in his first season as a Bronco.

Jeff: Specifically on Flacco: all things being equal price wise, I’d take him in a heartbeat over Keenum. I severely dislike Flacco and he gets a lot of hate, but when he is on, the guy can play, and had a great year under Kubiak. Besides, who have the Ravens had offensively around him? It’s not like he’s had the greatest supporting cast.

Now Keenum’s dead money likely drives the price of Flacco + dead money out of my price range, but I wouldn’t be opposed to exploring it.

My wishlist at QB is in this order:

Option 1. Carson Wentz – it’s a long shot and who knows if Philly would even consider moving him, but if I’m Elway I’m picking up the phone and throwing offers out there. Elway and Kubiak loved him coming out in 2016, and hes a great fit for Kubiak’s scheme.

Price wise, I’d be willing to part with a swap of 2019 1sts, #10 for Philly’s #20ish pick would be close to a 1st round equivalent value + 2019 second and next year’s 1st. Start with that and see what they say.

Option 2. Sign Flacco or Stick with Keenum this year due to his cost, but trade back in the draft to pick up a 2020 1st rounder or extra ammo to move up then for your Quarterback of the future.

Option 3. Pick BPA at #10 and trade back into the first round for Kyler Murray. I may write a whole post on him, but as an Oklahoma fan I’ve watched a lot of him and think he could be pretty good. He’s no Baker Mayfield, and would need a year of seasoning, but he’s worth a shot at a reduced price.

Kevin: If it were my move I would cut Keenum, save a bit of cash and bring in Teddy Bridgewater as a -Bridge QB – (see what I did there?) I think he has the smarts, accuracy and experience to get it done at a high level and at a cheap price. As we continually see around the NFL, you need either a HOF QB or a cheap QB. The teams with the expensive “meh” QBs are the Lions, Buccs and Bengals of the world and *shudder* we don’t want to be like them. Bring in Teddy B and draft someone in either 2019 or 2020 depending on who is available and for the love of Pete, let.the.kid.play.

Pete: I disagree. Teddy Bridgewater looked bad two weeks ago when he started for the Saints. I think Bridgewater is living off the name on the back of his jersey more-so than his current talent. I think that’s a mistake. I’d have him as a backup, but that’s it. He was far from impressive in his only start this year, and for the combined price tag of ditching Keenum and signing Bridgewater, he simply isn’t worth it. Not even close. That $35m price tag for QB’s (what it would roughly be with Keenum salary hit and Bridgewater contract) should only be reserved for the best of the best of the best (aka Rodgers, Luck, etc) because that’s way too much to spend on that position for what you’ll get.

It makes far more sense to throw a few 1st round picks for Carson Wentz from the Eagles if they’d be down to trade him (back and all) than spend that amount of money on Bridgewater. Plus Wentz still has a few years remaining on his rookie deal. We’d be set up nicely with that move, assuming Wentz is a “fluke” injury. Remember, Montana went on to do great post broken back. Manning went on to do great post broken neck. Wentz is younger and more athletic than both of those guys, so I’m not too worried about his injury risk.

What the Broncos should do is just suck up another year with Keenum and see if we can’t get our franchise QB in the 2020 draft (Unless somehow we get a shot at Dwayne Haskins or Kyler Murray this year). Trading for a veteran QB isn’t the solution unless he’s a Hall of Famer like Peyton Manning was. Otherwise you’re just treading water just like you are with Keenum.

We all need to be realistic on the QUALITY of quarterback available this offseason, and that quality just isn’t there. So stand pat with Keenum and draft your QB high and * gulp * PLAY HIM!!!!

Taylor Kothe: Among veteran QB options, I like the idea of exploring a trade for Wentz. He’s gotten hurt several times, but with the exception of the torn ACL they’ve all been bone breaks or fractures which don’t increase future risk of injury. In other words, he’s simply had bad luck. Though I’d make my offer more like our 2019 1st with no swap, our 2020 1st, and our 2020 2nd. Wentz is a franchise QB, and those don’t come cheap.

I’m also intrigued by Teddy Bridgewater and would be pleased if we managed to sign him, depending on the price. But, aside from those two, I’m not in favor of going after a veteran QB this offseason. Flacco is over-hyped and stands among the very worst franchise QBs in the NFL. He’s a lateral move from Keenum, and that’s not worth the price tag that will accompany him.

Unfortunately, I’m not enthused about the 2019 QB class. If there were some way to get Haskins, I’d be all for it. The rest of the QBs in this class, I don’t have high hopes for. So barring Haskins, I’d take a QB on Day 2 & hope to strike gold or at least get a quality long term backup QB, while biding my time and working some trades to load up for a run on a 2020 rookie QB.

I wouldn’t touch Kyler Murray before the 3rd round. Size may matter less at QB than it used to, but the size difference between he and Baker Mayfield is nearly as much as Mayfield is from the average NFL starting QB height of 6’4”. At that point, yeah, size definitely matters. Combine that with Murray’s run-heavy play style and he’s a far smaller RGIII just begging to happen. So let him happen to someone else. His best use isn’t likely as a franchise passer in any case, but more like early-2018 Lamar Jackson crossed with Christian McCaffrey: a matchup weapon who can go out & catch passes, rush the ball, or have the ball lateraled to him relatively often to set up creative passing situations.

Considering the low odds, high prices, and pile of dead money involved in most of the options we’re outlining, I end up coming down on the side of gritting our teeth and toughing out another season with Keenum at QB with a Day 2 QB learning behind him. Kubiak is moving the O-line in a zone-based direction, and that will take time to develop. As will that 2nd/3rd round rookie QB, etc.

We want to hear from you guys. What are your thoughts Broncos Country?

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