Which QB Will Start For Denver in 2021?
By: Jack Wills
There are rumours circulating throughout the Bronco-Nation that starting quarterback Drew Lock is on his way out of the Mile High City amid a rebuilding strategy from new GM George Paton. There is some controversy in this move given that Lock obviously cares a lot about his franchise and is the face of their youthful setup. Sadly for him, the numbers don’t lie.
He is a good quarterback, but not a great one. We’re very early on his career but he hardly looks like the type of quarterback that is going to bring the Lombardi trophy to the city of Denver, and for the Broncos, that is a problem.
They could try to nurture him, give him some elite wide receivers and hope that he can cut it, but that rarely works for teams. People say that the quarterback position is overrated, and to an extent this is true. However, it helps. You don’t win a Super Bowl by having a good quarterback, but you also rarely make the playoffs with a dud.
The Broncos are not going to get Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers in their team this offseason, but they will want a reliable quarterback who has experience and perhaps a chip on their shoulder – someone who can handle the young receiving core at their disposal and try and steer this underperforming franchise back into a playoff team at the very least.
Who are the viable trade targets for the Broncos?
The Broncos wanted Kirk Cousins several years ago when he was on his way out of the then Washington Redskins, but John Elway was not convinced he was the right man for the job. He possibly wasn’t, but he would have been a damn-sight better than Joe Flacco. The upside for Cousins is this: he is a top chain mover. He is not the fastest running quarterback and won’t give you the dynamisms of a Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray, but he is mobile enough when called upon. First and foremost though, he can get those short 10-yard throws off. With a young group of receivers this may help build their confidence and help find a rhythm.
The downside to Cousins is his wage. He was on big money in Minnesota and despite a fairly unremarkable couple of years, it is hard to imagine him happily agreeing to a paycut. While the Broncos will certainly have cap room, this will be a lot of money to invest in one player with only four playoff games (and only thee playoff starts) to his name. He is 1-2 in the playoff games he has started. He has a relationship with George Paton, so that could work to the advantage of the Broncos.
The Darnold experiment in New York just hasn’t worked. There are two schools of thought on Darnold. Some say he is a good quarterback tied to an abysmal team, others point out that he has quarterbacked a dud team since 2018. His 13-25-0 record is hardly the record you want to give your team’s QB, but there are positives for you.
The Jets were quite obviously trying to tank in 2020, remarkably managing to screw that up, but Darnold’s 7-6 record in 2019 gave some positives. He certainly built good relationships with his wide receivers, notably Robby Anderson, and this proves that if he can gel with the likes of Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy then there is hope.
Can this deal be done? Well, the reason for the tank-attempt was to land a new QB in the draft, so it is hard to imagine Darnold wanting to stick around New York. He will have a chip on his shoulder for sure.
After being brought into a historically relevant team with a good D and with the mercurial Le’Veon Bell, he would have hoped for a positive time, but it has been a hellish few years and the player would certainly relish a change. The Jets are on a project rebuild, so if they can bring in Drew Lock to compete with their draft QB then they’ll be content to get Darnold on to pastures new.
Similar to Kirk Cousins, Jimmy G is perhaps not the most dynamic quarterback to have balled in the NFL, however he is efficient. After several years of being the Tom Brady apprentice in New England, he finally landed the starting gig in San Francisco, taking a bedraggled, uninspiring 49ers franchise from the murky waters of early drafting right through to the Super Bowl in an impressively fast time-frame.
He got them here but harnessed their multifaceted run game, while making up the short yards and utilising top TE George Kittle. Can this be replicated in Denver? At a glance, yes.
Noah Fant is no George Kittle, but he has grown into the league and is a more-than-adequate pass catcher. Certainly with so many youthful wide receivers there should be room in that offence for Fant to break free more and fight for first downs. With Melvin Gordon and Philip Lindsay providing a strong double-punch in the backfield, it is not hard to imagine the Broncos bringing him into their offence the way San Francisco harnessed the quarterback. His injury history is a problem, and he began to grow stale by the Bay, but a new challenge may just revitalise Garoppolo.
It will be sad to see Lock leave Denver, the young man evidently cares much more than several former QBs in that locker room since Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset. Ultimately, the job of George Paton isn’t to play the most passionate players, it is to play the best.
There are 80,000 fans in Mile High each week who would bring bags of passion but who wouldn’t take the team very far… Paton needs to act fast to bring in a quarterback who is capable of breathing some life into the Denver offense and carrying them into the playoffs at the very least.