DENVER -- First came Deshaun Watson's unhappiness. Then Matthew Stafford decided he wanted to shoot his shot with a contender. Aaron Rodgers became existential talking about his mysterious state in Green Bay. Russell Wilson -- the man who can't complete a sentence without hashtag GoHawks! -- is bristling in Seattle. And keep checking your Twitter timeline because the Eagles' Carson Wentz, at odds with management after getting benched, could be traded any minute.
This is not a quarterback evolution. It is a revolution. Somewhere NBA stars are smiling.
In the button-downed NFL, where all protect the shield and value we over me, quarterbacks are executing a power play. No longer are the league's biggest stars satisfied with attention, statistics and money. They want to win, they want dysfunction-free franchises, and, in the case of Wilson, they want to pass without being involved in more hits than Taylor Swift.
We bring this up because the Broncos are not set at quarterback. Most people at UCHealth Training Center believe Drew Lock has the potential to be The Guy. No one is pounding their fist on the table saying he is The Guy.
It is a reasonable position. While there is a lot to like about Lock -- his leadership, humility, work ethic -- he hasn't been good enough. Last season, he tied for the league lead in interceptions with 15 and finished dead last with a 57.3 percent completion percentage.
So don't blame the Broncos for having a wandering eye. They own four straight losing seasons -- the last time that happened was 1963-72 -- and haven't reached the playoffs since winning Super Bowl 50. They also play in a division with Patrick Mahomes, a former regular season and Super Bowl MVP, Justin Herbert, the NFL's top offensive rookie in 2020, and Derek Carr, who posted 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season.
The Broncos will engage with the Texans about Watson if Houston decides to trade him. For now, the Texans insist they will not move their franchise star. The clock is ticking. In this game of chicken, it's fair to assume the Texans will have to decide whether to trade Watson or risk him sitting out the entire season. That benefits no one. And remember, Watson has real leverage. He can dictate where he goes because of his no-trade clause.
Denver will be in the mix. And safety Kareem Jackson has said Watson is interested. Still, the Broncos would be hard pressed to match deals assembled by the Dolphins, Jets, Panthers and Washington. The 49ers are also a wild card. Denver could offer what San Francisco does, but one thing the Broncos are not is a Super Bowl contender.
Stafford revealed in The Detroit Free Press that he gave everything he had for the Lions, but did not want to be part of another rebuild. The Rams provide him playoff hope. The Broncos called on Stafford but were never close to a deal.
Rodgers might as well have been calling from a burner phone with the vibes he put out on his end-of-the-season presser about his uncertain future. His move could result in more money and years on his contract, essentially rubbing the front office's nose into the mess that was the Jordan Love first-round pick.
Wilson's situation is becoming increasingly curious. He is a walking corporation. He never ruffles feathers, and certainly not those of Seahawks. Until this week.
His interview with Dan Patrick -- saying teams have likely called about him and that he's tired of getting hit -- seemed calculated. Every time he asks to pass more, coach Pete Carroll seems to think the answer is a better running game, something that has been inconsistent since prime Marshawn Lynch. And while Carroll might believe he is correct, he should look at his NFL record with quarterbacks not named Russell Wilson.
So could Russell force his way out? Perhaps, though the cap hit the Seahawks would take makes it hard to believe.
As for Wentz, there were false rumors on Twitter that the Broncos were aggressively pursuing him. Wrong. Wentz is broken. He was worse than Lock last season, benched in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts. The Colts remain the most logical landing place for Wentz, but according to reports, their best offers feature multiple second-round picks, and perhaps a later selection. The Bears have been casting a wide net in search of a starter, so they cannot be discounted. Wentz wants out, and Philadelphia will take a huge dent in the pocketbook to make him go away.
For decades, the math of these types of trades always made them improbable. Punch in the figures, account for the player's popularity, and realize the contract was built to last, there is no easy path to moving on. More like a slalom course in Austria.
This, however, is a new day for the NFL, where their sport's most high profile players are flexing their muscles and forcing teams into uncomfortable positions, if not trades.
QB or not QB is the prevailing question hanging over the offseason like never before.