Broncos Pegged As Likely Landing Spot for Saints' Free-Agent QB Teddy Bridgewater
The Denver Broncos believe they've found their future franchise quarterback. Even those pundits who are the most skeptical of Drew Lock's five-game sample size last season will acknowledge that the Broncos' starting QB job is his for 2020 at least.
Meanwhile, Teddy Bridgewater is about to hit unrestricted free agency and the word on the street is, after backing up Drew Brees in New Orleans for the last two years, he's looking to sign with a team where he'll be the understood starter.
All of this sets the stage for the curious news that came out on Wednesday afternoon where a leading oddsmaker (Sportsline), listed the Broncos as one of the top-seven most likely landing spots for Bridgewater this spring.
Sportsline lists four other teams as more likely suitors for Bridgewater's services, but still, fans want to know why he's being connected to Denver when the Broncos ostensibly have their starting QB already lined up. To make sense of this, let us quickly examine the Broncos' QB situation.
Broncos Need a Failsafe
After all, Lock will be entering his second year in the league. He's still very green, which doesn't preclude him from attaining greatness as a QB, but it does mandate to the Broncos the need to have a viable backup option.
Even just as a fail-safe, the Broncos need to solidify the backup spot behind Lock. Ideally, that backup would be a veteran with at least a modicum of starting experience who could reasonably be expected to stop the gap for a week or two if an injury befell Lock. That's requirement number one.
The second box that backup would have to check, and this is where things become more complex, is that the Broncos wouldn't want to add any outside backup who could or would be perceived as a threat to Lock's standing as 'the guy' in the locker room. A locker room's belief in a young quarterback can be a fragile thing and the Broncos' brass would be wise to hedge against adding any new element that might compromise Lock's standing with his teammates.
Bridgewater Isn't the Right Fit
As it relates to requirement No. 1, Bridgewater checks that box as he has started 34 NFL games, including five last year in which the Saints went 5-0. Box No. 2, though, Bridgewater wouldn't appear to be a fit on the surface, for multiple reasons.
One, as stated previously, he's looking for a starting opportunity. He's not about to get that in Denver but there are teams who likely will give him what he wants, including the contract that he seeks.
However, even in the event that Bridgewater finds multiple suitors willing to give him a backup's job and salary, but not the starting gig, the Broncos wouldn't be the best fit because Bridgewater is a former first-round pick and his ambitions are well-known. He'd be gunning for Lock's job at the first hint of a crack in the veneer.
If Bridgewater signs with a team to be the backup, ideally, that team would one with an entrenched, proven starter at QB, not a young guy just coming up.
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Broncos Need a Mentor More Than a 1b Backup
There's one other requirement box the Broncos will hope to check when adding Lock's backup; the mentor. In a perfect world, the backup to Lock would be a Josh McCown type who's been down the road and can still play but his best days are behind him and he's at a point in his career where he's willing to taking a younger player under his wing.
Every starting QB needs a sounding board. For some, it's their position coach, while with others, it's another QB in the room.
I don't know this, and I'm definitely guessing here, but my bet is that since Bridgwater yearns to be a starter, he's not about to take on the posture of a mentor and help bring along another QB who will continue to supplant him as the starter. I could be wrong, as some pros are willing to teach/mentor a younger player, regardless of ambition or the power dynamics.
In the case of an NFL quarterback in his prime like Bridgewater, I'm going to assume that he's every bit the Alpha type, which wouldn't be conducive to checking that third box the Broncos will want ideally for Lock's backup.
The Broncos will need to solve their backup question, as Brandon Allen is poised to be a restricted free agent and Brett Rypien is still yet to throw a real NFL pass and like Lock, is entering just his second year. Meanwhile, the team still has to figure out what to do with Joe Flacco and that albatross of a contract.
We're hearing that the Broncos believe Flacco will be healthy enough to play next year but even if he is, there are 10 million reasons why it's extremely unlikely to be in Denver. The two sides could be cruising for an imminent injury settlement, depending on how Flacco's recovery from the neck injury he sustained last year progresses.
As for Bridgewater, it's hard for me to see how Denver would be a likely landing spot, other than the team's obvious need for a backup. The problem with that perception is, Bridgewater isn't a backup. He's a QB who should be starting somewhere on Sundays.
I believe he will be doing just that in 2020 and not in the Orange and Blue.