Which QB Will John Elway Want?
By: Jack Wills
At the turn of the year, Broncos legend John Elway took the brave decision to step back from his role as GM of the Mile High franchise, with George Paton stepping into the hot-seat. Elway did a sterling job as a quarterback for Denver, assembling a dominant team which won Super Bowl 50. Since then, however, the team has fallen on hard times with several swing-and-miss attempts at the most crucial position, quarterback.
Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum and Joe Flacco have all started games for the Broncos, each and every one a disaster in their own right. With regards to their current QB, Drew Lock, the jury is still out. Their #3 has played 18 career games for the Broncos, and in that time has amassed 23 passing TDs (and three rushing scores), throwing 18 interceptions. He’s attempted 599 passes, completing 354, a completion rate of 59.1%.
This is an okay haul, given that he is only 24 and has missed a lot of games. It is also worth remember that the bulk of his receiving core are also very young guys who are still honing their skills themselves. There is every chance that George Paton will stick with Lock in 2021, however if the right opportunity does arise in the offseason then he may feel like stamping his mark on the team with a new quarterback. But who…?
Okay, this may be a stretch and certainly seems to fly in the face of George Paton’s more patient, nurturing process, but Denver has an exciting young team with some potentially explosive playmakers and a defensive colossus in Von Miller who is now the wrong side of 30. The Raiders and Chargers are two transition teams and the Chiefs have been on an upward trajectory for so long that an off-season must surely be on the horizon. The Broncos, despite a 5-11 season, have a lot of potential and feel like a side that are one or two pieces away from flipping that record on its head.
In terms of QB performance and stats, I won’t even waste your team. Deshaun Watson is good. You know it, I know it, everyone knows it. There are only a handful of teams in the league that wouldn’t improve by his addition and he would certainly push the Broncos in the right direction – short term. The problem being, he won’t come cheap. It would probably take a big-game player such as Von Miller to make the trade happen, along with a heavy dose of draft picks meaning that if Watson becomes a Bronco, they must start competing NOW.
It is no secret that Watson is looking for an escape route from the Texans – years of mismanagement have squandered a very talented team and the offseason trade of star WR DeAndre Hopkins appeared to be the final nail in the coffin. There are several teams who would realistically take Deshaun Watson, Miami and the Jets looking like the most likely spots, but Denver is an attractive location with a passionate fanbase and a lot of potential. This is unlikely to materialise, but crazier things have happened and it would certainly inject some much needed excitement into a fanbase who have been robbed for real excitement for several years.
Perhaps not the sexiest choice, Fitzpatrick is hardly the quarterback that Denver would want to build around for the next decade… there are some grey hairs appearing in that majestic beard of his! He is a consistent player, good arm strength, accurate passer and even at age 38 he is not shy to run with the ball and throw himself over the goalline. His bravery would go down incredibly well with the Mile High faithful, and if Drew Lock does stick around, the mentorship of a veteran like Fitzpatrick for a year would be an invaluable experience.
Ryan Fitzpatrick should, theoretically, be settled in Miami. He’s 38 and could easily develop into a QB coach at the Dolphins. The problem is, he isn’t finished yet and wants to keep playing games. He appeared unhappy at seeing him starting role taken away, replaced by rookie Tua Tagovailoa, and there aren’t an abundance of teams that are in the market for a player like Fitz to step in and start.
What would it take it lure Fitzpatrick from Miami to Denver? Possible very little. Tua Tagovailoa did not set the world alight in his few games starting as a Dolphin, but it was still his debut season after a pretty horrific injury in college. The Dolphins appear happy with him as a starter (and rumours are circulating that an ambitious trade for Deshaun Watson may be on the cards). The bottom line is that Fitzpatrick is not in the conversation there. He is a free agent so if the Dolphins don’t renew his contract for a year then he would likely leap at the opportunity for one last dance in Denver.
Could Cam Newton become a Denver Bronco? It feels a little hard to imagine, but there is potential. Cam only signed a one-year deal with the Patriots in 2020 and, while he showed flashes of the old Cam, it feels like the Patriots are planning their next move carefully. He would bring a real energy to the locker room and would command respect from a young group. His last few years haven’t been stellar, but he has a Super Bowl appearance to his name and would be desperate to return to that event before he hangs up his cleats. His movement on the ground would be a huge asset to the team.
Newton may wish to stick around Foxborough – his time with the Patriots has been largely unsuccessful, not helped by his Covid19 diagnosis, and I’m sure his ideal scenario would be a second go in New England. A player of his calibre would need to be a starter, so if coach Belichick doesn’t see him as this then it is very feasible that Cam will be heading elsewhere. Unless the Patriots trade up for a good draft pick to select a quality QB, or do the unthinkable and trade for a stud quarterback, then it is hard to imagine him not being kept around – the free agency board is not stacked him QB talent, certainly none that can be seen as a long-term investment.
If Newton does move, Denver could be a viable option. He comes across as being somewhat egotistical and the Broncos fans would certainly not be shy to shower him with love if he comes out all guns blazing. The most likely spot would be a starting job with the Washington Football Team, with his once-Panthers boss Ron Riviera revitalising a stagnant Washington team in 2020. The familiarity of Riviera and the ability to stay East-Coast is a huge draw, but money talks – so does playoff potential.
It is easy days and with a new GM in Denver we know that the changes will be rung. Is Drew Lock’s position as starting QB safe? Will he even remain in Denver at all, or is he set to stay but as a backup? If you were new Gm George Paton, what would you do?