The Denver Broncos were notified on Saturday afternoon that all four of their quarterbacks on-roster have been ruled out of Sunday's game at Empower Field at Mile High vs. the New Orleans Saints. Fans knew that Jeff Driskel would be unavailable after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday but the NFL is now mandating that neither Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, nor Blake Bortles can take the field on Sunday as the trio were deemed 'high risk' after their exposure to Driskel earlier this week.
Reschedule it, right? Like the NFL did for the New England Patriots earlier this season, as well as the Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills, and most recently, the Baltimore Ravens.
Nope. The NFL, for now, appears intent on strong-arming the Broncos into playing an 8-2 Saints club without a quarterback.
Denver's only option? Practice squad wideout Kendall Hinton, a former collegiate quarterback who switched his position for his senior campaign and hasn't thrown a meaningful pass in two calendar years.
Broncos' tight end Noah Fant, like fans and local media alike, can't believe the NFL expects this team to compete without a quarterback and sounded off on Twitter.
"I’m not one to complain, but NFL, y’all can’t possibly send us into a game without a QB," Fant tweeted Saturday evening. "The most important position to a offense. We don’t even got a back up..."
Indeed. The Broncos bent over backward to accommodate the Patriots when their Week 5 matchup got rescheduled to Week 6 at the 11th hour, which saw the NFL reshuffle Denver's schedule and robbed the team of its bye.
This is the NFL. We're talking about the most important position on the field — the quarterback — and the league expects the Broncos to take on an opponent, let alone a playoff-caliber foe, without one?
It's a joke. Everyone knows it's a joke. And if the NFL doesn't take this opportunity to scratch the Broncos' back after GM John Elway and CEO Joe Ellis took one on the chin for the Patriots earlier this season, giving up their team's true bye, it will be one of the most transparent displays of favoritism by the league front office in recent memory.
Remember, the NFL gave the Broncos permission to practice on Thursday after Driskel tested positive for the virus, presumably because the league had signed off on the results of the team's contact tracing. To do a 180 like this on the eve of a gameday, fleecing the team of literally every QB on its roster, is unconscionable.
You can be a contrarian like Mike Florio and say that the Broncos only have themselves to blame, but the NFL has the chance to make this situation right and make clear that a team's playoff relevance doesn't factor into the league's scheduling flexibility when it comes to COVID-19 outbreaks. At 4-6, the Broncos wouldn't make the playoffs if the season ended today but this is a team still very much in the hunt for one of those three Wildcard spots in the AFC.
Do the right thing, NFL.