For those fans pining for Deshaun Watson to float through the doors of Dove Valley, the odds are slim. Watson has a long line of NFL executives plotting to acquire him. Let's face it; the odds-on favorite to lead the Denver Broncos offense in 2021 is Drew Lock.
Although we have observed glimpses of Lock's potential, the facts are he ranked 29th in Pro Football Focus QB rankings in 2020. Last Thursday, new Broncos GM George Paton described Lock's play as “talented but inconsistent."
In the highly competitive AFC West, the Broncos need a quarterback that is consistent and elevates the play of his teammates. Paton could pull the trigger on three different quarterback options in free agency that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg and could motivate Lock to either raise his game or find himself losing his starting position in a competitive camp battle.
With the news of Ryan Fitzpatrick likely retiring from the NFL, here's a QB triumvirate the Broncos would be wise to court when free agency opens up next week, each of whom is a proven winner (by that I mean that each has a plus-.500 record as a starter).
Andy Dalton | ex-Dallas Cowboys
The 33-year-old offers stability and would bring competition to the Broncos' quarterback room. In 2020, Dalton passed for 2,170 yards and 14 touchdowns with eight interceptions in relief of the injured Dak Prescott, completing 64.9% of his passes.
Dalton is known for taking what the defense gives him. He is not a risk-taker as evidenced by his 29th ranking among NFL QBs in deep-throw attempts.
Conversely, Dalton rarely puts his defense in difficult situations due to game-killing interceptions. He is an effective game manager. Dalton's mix of traits are ones Lock should take note of.
Tyrod Taylor | ex-Los Angeles Chargers
The 11th-year veteran has been linked to the Broncos since 2016. Taylor turned down a contract offer from Denver five years ago to compete and start for the Buffalo Bills.
The former 2011 sixth-round pick by Baltimore was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2016 as a Bill. Taylor is known for being a good athlete, an effective game manager, and possesses strong leadership skills. He does not possess an Aaron Rodger-like arm, or that level of accuracy but Taylor gets the ball out of his hand quickly and uses his legs to escape from drive-killing sacks.
He lost his starting position with the Chargers last year due to a freak accident caused by the team doctor. Rookie first-rounder Justin Herbert took over as the starter and the rest is history.
During Taylor's last full season as a starter in 2017, he threw for 2,799 yards and 14 touchdowns with just four picks. He brings a veteran presence and skill-set that would provide a hot-seat head coach like Vic Fangio options, if he doesn’t see improvement from Lock.
Mitchell Trubisky | ex-Chicago Bears
Selected by Chicago as the second overall pick in the 2017 draft, Trubisky's time with the Bears has been rocky, He does possess talent — with a cannon for an arm and effective scrambling ability.
During the 2020 season, Trubisky lost his starting position to the journeyman Nick Foles, largely due to accuracy issues and difficulty reading defensive coverages. Due to Foles' injuries, Trubisky started 10 games last year, throwing 16 touchdowns to eight interceptions with a 67 completion percentage.
Remember, there is familiarity between Fangio and Trubisky from back when the former served as Chicago's defensive coordinator and was there when the latter was drafted. If the Broncos coaching staff could refine his skills and construct an offense that took advantage of Trubisky's gifts, Denver would have a credible option to compete to be the starter.
Coach Fangio cannot risk the upcoming season by handing Lock the keys to the castle without a viable contingency plan at QB. Like it or not, Lock is going to have to compete and fight with a veteran for the position.
Performance, not potential, should be the sole basis for the Broncos deciding on who should be the 2021 starter under center.
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