For the first time since the Broncos’ victory at Super Bowl 50, Denver are set to enter training camp without a battle for the job of starting quarterback.
Trevor Siemian, the slightly goofy, seventh round pick you couldn’t root against is no longer in Denver. In comes Case Keenum who, like Siemian, has had the odds stacked against him his whole career. None more so than in the NFC Divisional round playoff game against the New Orleans Saints, the setting for the “Minneapolis Miracle.” The undrafted quarterback had, against the odds, taken the Minnesota Vikings into the NFC Championship game.
Of course, defeat in the NFC Championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles began a Quarterback merry-go-round in the NFL. The Chiefs saw Patrick Mahomes as their future and traded Alex Smith to the Redskins, Kirk Cousins signed for Minnesota, and the Broncos signed Case Keenum to a two-year $36 million deal, whilst trading Siemian to Minnesota.
Whilst there is no question over who will start for the Broncos at quarterback, barring great unfortune, there are still huge question marks around Case Keenum. Was last year an anomaly? A 98.3 passer rating, 3,547 yards, and 22 touchdowns to just seven interceptions made Keenum the guy Elway wanted. Keenum has shown steady improvements throughout his career, and the Broncos will be hoping last year was Keenum’s breakout year. After two years of quarterback woes, the Broncos desperately need Keenum to succeed.
This offseason, the Broncos have certainly given Keenum the weapons to be successful. Wide recievers Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton were drafted whilst rookie running back Royce Freeman could challenge Devontae Booker for playing time. Add in a new right tackle in Jared Veldheer, and the Broncos are building to be successful with Keenum.
Waiting in the wings are Paxton Lynch, Chad Kelly, and undrafted free agent Nick Stevens who is likely to be nothing more than a camp arm. Lynch has lost out to Siemian these last two years, but if social media is anything to go by, has certainly been putting in the extra work needed this offseason. According to Vance Joseph, he is battling Chad Kelly for the backup job.
Kelly undoubtedly has great talent, throwing 50 touchdowns in his final two year at Ole Miss, but missed last year through injury, and is a great enigma after falling to the final pick in the 2017 draft. Some have tipped him to be a starting quarterback in the future, but behavioural concerns, and often erratic play, raised questions over his NFL potential. Meanwhile, Lynch has flattered to deceive so far, and if beaten by Kelly, his future with the Broncos will be all but over. It’s now or never for Lynch, and his glimmer of opportunity lies with Keenum only signing for two years. But Lynch’s window in Denver is closing.
After failing to draft the future of the Broncos two years ago, John Elway, the hero of boyhood Broncos fan Case Keenum, desperately needs his offseason moves to be successful. And Broncos Country hope Keenum can be the guy for many years. For now, a return to the playoffs is the aim.