The 2022 NFL offseason is well underway and the Denver Broncos have nearly filled out head coach Nathaniel Hackett's staff. GM George Paton is preparing for the opening of NFL free agency which starts on March 16.
Broncos Country is hooked on 'Aaron Rodgers Watch', waiting on pins and needles for any news of the Green Bay Packers quarterback, and reining back-to-back NFL MVP, taking his talents elsewhere. While the Rodgers-to-Denver rumors are enough to excite anyone, the Broncos' QB room needs to be addressed as a whole whether via free agency or the NFL draft.
The first thing that coaches and management work on in the offseason is assessing the talent and production of players on the current roster. On Wednesday, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal released his annual QB Index which ranked all starting quarterbacks of 2021.
So, where did Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock rank among the 62 starting signal-callers last year? Let's dive in.
Teddy Bridgewater | Rank: 18
Last April, the Carolina Panthers landed Sam Darnold in a trade with the New York Jets and traded Bridgewater to Denver in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round pick. As part of the deal, Carolina paid $7 million of Teddy's contract while Denver took on only $3M for the veteran.
After vanquishing Lock in training camp, the seventh-year QB finished the season with 14 starts, passing for 3,052 yards and a career-high 18 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Rosenthal:
“If I was to guess Teddy's numbers for the season before it started, they might have looked like the stats above. He did his job, and the formula could have worked, if the Broncos' defense didn't struggle to get off the field, sinking to 21st in DVOA.”
Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (or DVOA) assists in evaluating player performances based on the situation and circumstances, including field position and downs. Rosenthal’s grade is fair based on the accuracy and completions for first downs that Bridgewater notched (146).
Bridgewater led the Broncos to a 7-7 record as a starter and battled injuries that included two concussions and lower-body injuries for a majority of the season and was placed on injured reserve in early January after missing the final three games.
Bridgewater is now poised to be an unrestricted free agent at 29 years old. He’s been with five NFL teams and will unquestionably be picked up as a backup or bridge quarterback to further his journeyman career. Will that be in Denver? Time will tell.
Drew Lock | Rank: 47
It’s hard to tell what’s next for 25-year-old Lock. After being selected in the second round of the 2019 draft out of Missouri, he’s found a little bit of success in his three-year career in Denver.
He's played in 24 career games and thrown for 4,740 yards and 25 touchdowns with 20 interceptions while rushing for an additional 285 yards and five scores with 13 fumbles. In 2021, Lock was asked to be a backup for the first time in his football career and the results were less than glamorous.
In the six games he appeared in (three starts), Lock threw for 787 yards and two passing touchdowns with two interceptions and two fumbles, while chipping in two rushing touchdowns. Rosenthal:
“Lock was better than his stats showed in three late-season starts, avoiding the haywire decisions that plagued his 2020 campaign. He didn't get much help from his receivers or offensive line. If he plays like that moving forward, he can settle in as a quality backup.”
While I can appreciate Lock’s effort in all six games played, I can’t help but feel he was hamstrung by the Broncos' inability to move the football under former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Lock's 2021 struggles were less the offensive line being problematic and more scheme-related.
But the same bad habits persisted. Poor decision making, panicked throws, and exceptionally poor footwork have significantly lowered Lock’s value.
I’ve been on record stating that Lock would benefit from a change of scenery, specifically in a west-coast offense that keep him on the move. I previously had a first-round grade on Lock, but enough is enough.
Poised to have his third coordinator in four seasons, Lock's outlook isn't favorable under Hackett. While I can appreciate Lock’s professionalism, I believe he could’ve been more prepared to step in and play at a moment’s notice — coaching foibles notwithstanding. You know, as a backup is supposed to.
Former Broncos QBs Ranked
Interestingly, three ex-Broncos made the QB Index list as starters with other teams last season. The Cleveland Browns' Case Keenum ranked No. 48, New York Jets' Joe Flacco ranked No. 51, and the Cincinnati Bengals' Brandon Allen checked in at No. 58.
Perhaps 2022 will finally be the year the Broncos land a blockbuster QB by trade, free agency, or the draft and finally snap the era of under-center mediocrity in the Mile High City.
Follow Luke on Twitter @LukePattersonLP.
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