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Woody Paige: What happens if the Broncos don't get any of the quarterbacks they want?

Posted at 4:27 PM, Jan 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-29 18:27:10-05

DENVER -- What if the Broncos can’t get any of the quarterbacks they want? What then?

Despite what John Elway and Vance Joseph declare about upgrading the quarterback position, it’s conceivable, I daresay, that they could strike out on the seven, eight or even nine they will be considering.

Don’t go anywhere yet, Trevor and Brock. Hope you’re working out hard and daily, Paxton and Chad.

Can we all agree that the quarterbacks the Broncos seem most interested in, and intrigued by, are, not in any specific order, Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith, both under contract to others teams; Case Keenum and Sam Bradford, unrestricted free agents for the moment; and potential first-round draft choices Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield.

Let’s assume that, based on Elway’s comments last week at the Senior Bowl, the Broncos prefer a veteran NFL-ready QB who could help lift the team back into the playoffs in 2018.

Here are the issues with the top four:

Kirk Cousins -- Washington could franchise Cousins for a third-straight season and play him and pay him $34 million, or they could apply a transitional tag for $28 million, which would allow the franchise to match any other offers. They also could do either, then trade him to, say, Buffalo for the Bills’ 21st and 22nd picks in the first round of the draft.

Or Washington could just let Cousins go, and the Broncos would be in play for his services. However, Cousins never has indicated he would want to come to Denver. In fact, he has only said of anybody else that wouldn’t be opposed to playing for the Broncos.

And Cousins could hold a grudge against the Broncos because they invited him to Dove Valley in 2012, but didn’t draft him when they had they chance. And he might not be pleased that they declined to hire one of Cousins’ two favorite coaches – Kyle Shanahan. The other was his father Mike. They drafted him and coached him in Washington.

Cousins might not be excited to leave a 7-9 team for the 5-11 Broncos. He probably would have been more excited if he took over the Broncos after the retirement of Peyton Manning. (Cousins was a big Manning fan, and still wears Manning’s duplicate facemask.)

Alex Smith – Anybody who thinks the Chiefs are willing to trade Smith to the Broncos is living in a weird universe. Sure, Andy Reid once sent Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb to Washington, but McNabb proved he was finished in D.C. Smith arguably had his best statistical year for Kansas City, and the Chiefs won’t release him. They would rather trade him, to say Buffalo, for a second-round pick. The Broncos wouldn’t give up a second, anyway.

Case Keenum – He’s become the flavor du jour after his accomplishments with the Vikings. The positive for the Broncos signing him as an unrestricted free agent is Gary Kubiak, who signed Keenum when he was an undrafted free agent – and started him in 10 games over two seasons before Houston dumped both, and he ended up with the Rams.

However, the Vikings could franchise Keenum, or, it’s suspected, he could rejoin Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who is now the Giants’ coach. Or maybe, say, Buffalo, which made the playoffs this season, outbids the Broncos.

Sam Bradford – He is a free agent with terrible knees. Drafted No. 1 overall in 2010, Bradford hasn’t played a full season since 2012. He suffered a bad knee injury in the second game this season.  His agent, Tom Condon, try to engineer a trade to the Broncos when Bradford was with the Eagles, but the Broncos balked over his salary in 2016. Are they willing to take a chance now? I don’t see it.

Now, about the youngsters? Here’s the potential dilemma for the Broncos if they were overwhelmed with and by Mayfield or Allen in the Senior Bowl, or they are higher on Darnold or Rosen.

Cleveland drafts No. 1 and grabs one of the four. The Giants draft second, and they want a quarterback, too, to take over probably in 2019 for Eli Manning.

That leaves two.

The Colts have stated publicly they are willing to trade the No. 3 overall selection. So, what, if the Bills, say, offer their two No. 1 picks later in the first round to move up and take the third quarterback?

Then, there’s Cleveland again with the choice they obtained from the Texans. The Jets, the Dolphins or the Cardinals, in desperate need, could jump above the Broncos into that spot and take Quarterback Four.

What then for the Broncos? Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph, Josh McCown or a trade with, say, Buffalo for Tyrod Taylor?