New Denver Broncos GM George Paton was ‘in’ on landing Matthew Stafford, and there are rumors that he'd also aggressively pursue the likes of Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, and/or Dak Prescott if any were to become available. Most signs point to Drew Lock returning and having to ‘earn’ the starting spot against some sort of veteran hedge.
At least that seemed to be the majority consensus until 9NEWS' Mike Klis published his breakdown of the Broncos' five-year quarterback search recently. In the piece, Klis guides the reader through the post-Peyton Manning era, as painful as that is to rehash, and shows the mistakes and decisions by Denver that landed the team in the position it finds itself in now.
Much of this was already well known, but Klis closed out the piece with extremely interesting and perhaps revealing information given his status as one of the most prominent insiders in Dove Valley.
Of these three, Rypien figures to have the best chance of returning. Lock will either be the starter for 2021, or possibly involved in a trade package involving Watson. Driskel is not expected to return for the final year of a nonguaranteed $2.5 million on his contract. Rypien is an ideal No. 3 QB – young, inexpensive and proven capable.
Rypien as the most likely Broncos’ quarterback to return in 2021? Rypien?
While he came in and moved the ball effectively on the Broncos' final possession vs. Tampa Bay in Week 2 and helped Denver earn its first win of the season the next week at the New York Jets, Rypien was an undrafted free agent for a solid reason; he’s a rather small-statured, a limited athlete, a lower-tiered arm talent quarterback.
While Rypien is lauded for his football mind and has been pegged by many as a very likely future offensive coach, the fact that he was listed here as the most likely to be retained by Denver in 2021 should be shocking. Lock was a bottom five quarterback in 2020 across countless metrics. He was not good and his struggles, given the value of the quarterback position, are a large reason why the Broncos are picking No. 9 overall in the 2021 NFL draft. However, to not list Lock as the most likely returning quarterback next year does not quite add up.
Unless Denver is able to obtain one of Watson, Wilson, or Dak, and whether or not any of those three are even available at all, it is hard to imagine a scenario where Lock isn’t in Denver next season. Given the overall pushback by some in local media in regards to the Broncos being in the market for a first-round quarterback, like Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones, it should further raise eyebrows as to what exactly Klis is being told and what on earth Paton has planned for the Broncos at quarterback in 2021 and beyond.
If I were a betting man, I would assume Lock is back next year and is forced to win the starting quarterback position versus a veteran likely obtained via free agency. It's possible Denver could trade for that competition and bring in a Gardner Minshew, Marcus Mariota, or Sam Darnold but given how much Paton values draft picks and the Broncos’ current instability (or lack thereof) at ownership, those draft picks leading to cost-controlled young players are golden tickets.
It is hard to imagine the new GM parting with those unless a 25-year-old top-5 NFL quarterback was coming back for return…
Will Lock be a Bronco in 2021? A vast majority would assume so, but if Klis is hinting otherwise, it's at least worth pondering what might possibly be going down for the Broncos at the quarterback position this offseason.
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