The Denver Broncos have been looking for the right quarterback for some time. Broncos general manager John Elway specifically has been looking for a franchise quarterback that he can hang his hat on for now and well into the future. After winning Super Bowl 50 with future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, this team has been swinging and missing on quarterbacks added through the draft or free agency.
Elway readily admits the team has been looking high and low for such a player.
“I think that when you look back over the last four years, since Super Bowl 50 when we really won it on the defensive side—then when Peyton (Manning) retired, we’ve been trying to find that replacement for Peyton since then,” Elway said.
The Broncos tried to do what they did with Manning and signed veterans with plenty of experience but, a shock to no one, those guys did not have the same success. The team tried to find a young, potential franchise quarterback via the draft, but to no avail until they selected Drew Lock out of Missouri.
So, is Lock the franchise quarterback this team has been searching for and what motivates him to be as such? Let’s take a look.
Trevor Siemian (2015-17)
There is no doubt that former Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak loved Trevor Siemian and that’s why he pushed to add the young quarterback in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Siemian won the starting job for the 2016 season and showed toughness getting beat up due to a poor offensive line on a weekly basis. A close examination of his game showed several spots where he was lacking the “it” factor as a passer, but the team stuck with him as their best choice. He began the 2017 season as the starter, but ended up getting hurt again.
What Motivated Him? – Siemian was the ultimate underdog, overlooked in college and early on in his pro career. He lacked the natural ability and strength to be a consistent starter, but Siemian did work hard, and his teammates respected his leadership. After getting crushed under center for the Broncos, the team traded him to the Vikings, where he backed up Kirk Cousins for the 2018 season. He then signed with the Jets in 2019, but Siemian got hurt again and is now looking for a new team in 2020.
Brock Osweiler (2015, 2017)
In the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Broncos selected Brock Osweiler out of Arizona State. He was tall, athletic, had a strong arm and was going to learn behind Manning before taking over as the team’s starter. The team won Super Bowl 50, in part due to the 5-2 record Osweiler had as a starter when Manning was hurt. However, he was benched in Week 17 and watched as Manning led the team in the postseason. Osweiler then did not return calls and refuted the Broncos offer to him, even though it averaged $16 million per year. He moved on to the Texans, signing a four-year, $72 million contract with $37 million guaranteed.
What Motivated Him? – Osweiler wanted to prove that he could be “the man” for the Broncos. He never really got that chance and then said “no” when the team wanted to bring him back for the post-Manning era. He did return in 2017 and started a small handful of games, but now Osweiler is happily retired.
Paxton Lynch (2016-18)
The Broncos moved up in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft for Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch. He was tall, athletic, had a big arm and was supposed to be the franchise quarterback of the future. Lynch was not ready to start from day one, and the Broncos knew that it would take time for him to pick up the nuances of running a pro system. They didn’t commit to his college offense (spread, shotgun) and instead wanted him to learn a West Coast system and work from under center. Lynch only started a small handful of games for the Broncos and never seemed to grasp what it meant to earn a starting job – especially in Denver.
What Motivated Him? – This is a tough one to answer (without a sarcastic answer like video games). I believe that Lynch wanted to be a first-round pick, but he had little idea how to handle the pressure or prepare like a professional. Once the Broncos released him in 2018, so they could pick up Kevin Hogan, Lynch bounced to the Seahawks and is now the fourth-string quarterback with the Steelers.
Case Keenum (2018)
After leading the Vikings to the 2017 playoffs, the Broncos were happy to land Case Keenum in free agency the following year. They signed him to a two-year, $36 million contract with $25 million in guarantees. Keenum set career highs with 3,890 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, but the Broncos were 6-10 with him as the starter. Keenum was a hard worker and said all the right things, but he just wasn’t that good. Like Siemian, Keenum was under pressure too much for him to be comfortable making plays. Even though he was under contract for 2019, the team decided to move on from Keenum in favor of another, more decorated, veteran.
What Motivated Him? – Keenum wanted to prove that he could be a regular starter and not just some journeymen quarterback a team has to start due to injury. He did start eight games with the Redskins in 2019, but went a horrific 1-7 as the team’s starter. Keenum moved on and is now the primary backup to Baker Mayfield with the Browns.
Joe Flacco (2019)
The Broncos traded for Joe Flacco before the start of free agency in 2019. Elway professed that Flacco was in his prime and the team would benefit from the former Super Bowl MVP. Instead of Flacco being the answer, adding him was a bad decision. Flacco could not handle the pressure behind Denver’s O-line and struggled to stay upright. He’s never been mobile and certainly couldn’t buy enough time as a passer to use his weapons effectively on play-action passes. He was not in his prime and instead looked like a shell of his former self and ended up getting hurt to finish his only season in Denver.
What Motivated Him? – Flacco wanted to prove that he could still be an effective starter in the NFL. He was replaced in Baltimore by 2018 first-round pick Lamar Jackson and was looking for a fresh start. Instead of proving his point, Flacco got hurt – had to have offseason neck surgery – and is still waiting for a team to sign him for the 2020 season.
Drew Lock (2019-???)
Lock was a player the Broncos liked in the 2019 NFL Draft and Elway told him at the Senior Bowl that year that he would be a top-10 pick. Well, the Broncos had the No. 10 overall selection and they didn’t pick any player there. Instead, they moved back to No. 20 overall and selected tight end Noah Fant. When the second round came around, Lock was still on the board and the Broncos decided to add him there.
A thumb injury sidelined him for most of his rookie season, but Lock was one of the “designated to return” players off Injured Reserve and started five games to close out the 2019 season. In those games, Lock went 4-1 as a starter and flashed the ability to be the franchise quarterback the Broncos have been looking for.
Elway knows what those final five games meant to Lock’s future with the team.
“I think with the way Drew played at the end of last year, we saw the signs of a guy that has a chance to be very successful in this league, but to do that, he’s got to have some good people around him. We had the guy we believe over time, as I’ve talked about, that it’s going to take some time, to give him a chance to be successful and us a chance to be successful. We’ve got to put points on the board. Seventeen points a game is not nearly enough, so the first step was this year in the draft,” Elway said.
What Motivates Him? – The answer is simple; Elway motivates the second-year pro. Lock said recently he’s motivated by the faith his high-profile general manager has bestowed in him. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about the quarterbacks in Denver,” Lock said via NFL.com. “You know, Peyton (Manning) was the man there, obviously. We’ve had some good ones, and up-and-down (QBs) in there, and I didn’t want to be that for John. I wanted to be a steady guy for him. I wanted to show everybody that they drafted the right quarterback.”
Do the Broncos finally have their franchise quarterback? Hit me up on social media and let me know what you think!
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