The Broncos will not be forfeiting their game against the Saints after all of their quarterbacks were deemed high-risk close contacts with a player who had tested positive for COVID-19, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The trouble began on Thursday when Jeff Driskel tested positive. Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles all came into contact with Driskel and were not wearing masks, per Schefter. They were ruled out on Saturday for Sunday's game.
In a statement released Saturday evening, the Broncos said all three quarterbacks who were ruled high-risk close contacts were asymptomatic.
Included in a memo sent to all 32 teams following the fall league meeting is language that says games will be played as scheduled despite this type of situation arising that depletes a team's available players.
“In light of substantial additional roster flexibility in place for this season, absent medical considerations, games will not be postponed or rescheduled simply to avoid roster issues caused by injury or illness affecting multiple players, even within a position group.”
Rookie wide receiver Kendall Hinton is expected to play "plenty of quarterback" on Sunday, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Hinton has not appeared in a game yet this season, though he spent most of his college career at Wake Forest playing quarterback. In four seasons, he completed 53.0% of his pass attempts for 1,504 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions before switching to receiver as a senior.
Running back Royce Freeman held the title of Denver's emergency quarterback, according to Ryan O'Halloran of The Denver Post. Freeman was the team's emergency quarterback in Week 2 when Lock was injured. Freeman has never attempted a pass in an NFL game, though he did complete his only collegiate pass attempt as a freshman in 2014 for a 26-yard touchdown.
Denver tight end Noah Fant took to Twitter to express his disapproval for the league's protocols that resulted in the Broncos not having a quarterback available:
On the season, Freeman has 79 rushing yards on 22 attempts, with nine receptions for 73 yards. As a team, Denver ranks last in the league in passer rating (69.0), interceptions (17) and completion rate (56.7%).