On this date two years ago, Drew Lock signed his first NFL deal. On July 17, 2019, the second-round pick signed his rookie contract with the Denver Broncos.
By the 2019 offseason, John Elway was preparing for his third attempt to find Peyton Manning‘s long-term successor. His first two swings (2012 second-round pick Brock Osweiler and 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch) hadn’t worked out, and after the Broncos completed their third-straight losing season, Elway was willing to give it another go.
Unfortunately for Elway, the 2019 draft wasn’t known for its QB depth. Outside of presumed number-one pick Kyler Murray, there were only a handful of alternatives (Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins, Lock) with a first- or second-round grade. So, instead of reaching for someone with the No. 10 pick (or trading up for Jones), Elway decided to trade back in the first round and later trade up in the second to select Lock.
Lock was a worthy choice at No. 42. The Mizzou product finished his collegiate career with 99 touchdown passes — including 44 as a junior — and 12,193 yards, and he earned All-SEC honors in both 2017 and 2018. Thanks to that performance, Lock’s camp seemed to think that he was worthy of a first-round salary (or at least more than the allotted salary for an early-ish second-round pick). Lock’s agent was reportedly seeking a “quarterback premium,” which meant they wanted more money than the draft slot dictated.
However, the two sides ultimately came to an agreement on this date in 2019. The Broncos didn’t end up giving into any demands of an overslot deal; the team gave Lock the same workout bonuses as their other second-round pick (Dalton Risner), and the quarterback’s $3.1MM signing bonus was the standard amount for the No. 42 slot.
Declining to overpay Lock may have been a wise decision by the Broncos front office. While Lock impressed a bit after replacing Joe Flacco during his rookie season (4-1 record, 7 touchdowns vs. three interceptions), he struggled during his first full season as a starter in 2020. The quarterback guided Denver to a 4-9 record in 13 starts, connecting on 57.3-percent of his passes for 2,933 yards, 16 touchdowns, and an NFL-high 15 interceptions.
2021 will surely be a make-or-break season for the 24-year-old, and he probably won’t see as long of a leash during the early parts of the season. For starters, head coach Vic Fangio is likely fighting for his job, and secondly, the organization has a serviceable backup plan with veteran Teddy Bridgewater. Further, the organization recently hired GM George Paton, and if the Broncos struggle in 2021, there’s a good chance the front office will be looking to bring in their own young QB.
As always, there was plenty of optimism surrounding Lock’s signing on this date in 2019. However, fast forward two years, and the second-round QB is now struggling to retain his starting gig.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.