Denver Broncos fans have mostly given up on the possibility of disgruntled quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson landing in the Mile High City. With most of the offseason training program in the books, veterans recognize that the opportunity to get even an expert QB-brain like Rodgers in the building in time to download and assimilate the playbook has dwindled rapidly.
The rumor mill hasn't let either possibility go, however, and Broncos vets continue to get asked about it whenever a microphone is thrust in front of them.
It's no different for eight-time Pro Bowler Von Miller, who's in Las Vegas this weekend to host his fifth annual pass-rush summit. With established and prospective NFL pass rushers flocking to Sin City to learn at the feet of star sack masters like Miller and retired Bronco DeMarcus Ware, the topic turning the headlines isn't the summit but rather, the QB trade market.
Perhaps that has something to do with the lack of clarity at QB in Denver. And the lack of relative production at the position over the past five seasons.
Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal asked Miller about the ever-dwindling prospect of landing a Rodgers or Watson.
“It’s crazy to think about, you know, getting an Aaron Rodgers,” Miller said on Saturday in Vegas. “You put him on any team in the league and he changes that team.
"If you get too emotionally involved in those guys, and then it doesn’t happen, now you got Lock over here looking like … what about now?’ So you don’t want to get too emotionally attached to the rumors.
“You start thinking, ‘Oh, we’re going to get Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson.' But hold on, wait a minute, we’ve got Drew Lock. That’s who we’re running with. That’s who we’re going into the season with until anything changes.”
Indeed, it's a slippery slope and one that any prominent veteran has to navigate with tact in the public arena, lest a stray, unconsidered comment gets blown out of proportion and turned into a locker room-dividing scandal. Of course, Miller would be thrilled to land a superstar like the 38-year-old Rodgers but the sack czar has trod carefully on the subject.
However, it is slightly revealing to hear how the former Super Bowl 50 MVP couched his rationale for not pining away in hopes Rodgers lands in Denver.
Without risking reading too far into Miller's comment there, he's obviously very leery of saying anything publicly that compromises his, or the locker room's, relationship with the beleaguered Lock. A year ago, every Bronco in the building sang the praises of Lock after the rookie QB led his team to a 4-1 finish to the 2019 campaign.
2020 rolled around, along with a raging pandemic that completely turned the NFL calendar on its head and robbed young players and new coaches of countless, precious reps. Adding injury to that insult — literally — stars like Miller began succumbing to the injury bug at an alarming rate.
From Miller to Courtland Sutton to Jurrell Casey to Mike Purcell to A.J. Bouye to Albert Okwuegbunam to Bryce Callahan — and even Lock himself — the injury bug absolutely ravaged the Broncos, further throwing Lock's Year 2 bid to lay claim to the starting position off its axis. After an up-and-down season, Lock's future as The Guy in Denver was suddenly cast into doubt as John Elway relinquished his job as GM at year's end and the Broncos hired George Paton to succeed him.
Prioritizing competition at the QB position, Paton executed a trade the day before the NFL draft that landed one of his former wards in Denver. Teddy Bridgewater — a former Minnesota Vikings first-round pick in 2014 — is now competing with Lock for the starting job.
While Miller's remarks make it plain that he realizes Lock's job security could change, it's telling to hear him speak with the assumption that the former Missouri star is the starting quarterback in Denver. That's got to warm the cockles of Lock's heart.
Meanwhile, Rodgers' standoff with the Green Bay Packers continues with the most recent development coming in the form of team president Mark Murphy saying some oddball, passive-aggressive stuff about the reigning MVP. In Houston, Watson continues to be viewed as radioactive and toxic as 22 claims of sexual misconduct have been levied against him.
For now, Miller will focus on the task at hand of leading his pass-rush summit and return to Denver as the team holds its mandatory minicamp on Tuesday. Lock and Bridgewater's competition will continue to take shape and then, the blight of the six-week NFL summer will go into effect.
From there, the Broncos will kick off training camp somewhere around the end of July and then this QB competition will truly coalesce with an expected decision by the coaches coming no later than after the third and final preseason game in August.
Until then, hurry up and wait.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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