Drew Lock

Latest On Broncos’ QB Plans

Several teams have already made big splashes under center this offseason, but the Broncos have been mostly quiet. That could change soon.

Denver “isn’t sitting still at the position,” Albert Breer of SI.com writes. Breer lays out details of the Broncos’ pursuits we haven’t heard before, including the previously unreported full offer they made for Matthew Stafford. The Broncos apparently did in fact offer the ninth overall pick to the Lions, but they wanted a second-rounder back in return which quelled those talks.

Breer thinks they’ll add competition for Drew Lock in one form or another, and he mentions the Panthers’ Teddy Bridgewater as a potential option. As he points out, new Broncos GM George Paton was in Minnesota when the Vikings drafted Bridgewater in the first-round. On that note, Breer has some interesting thoughts on the makeup of Denver’s new front office.

The fact that the team isn’t committing to Lock is “a pretty decent sign that John Elway has truly moved into the background,” Breer writes. He also thinks Denver’s lack of real interest in Sam Darnold is a telling sign that Elway isn’t calling the shots, since Elway was infatuated with Darnold coming out of college in 2018.

The team hired Paton to be GM earlier this offseason, with Elway getting elevated to President of Football Operations. At the time there were murmurs about how much power Elway would actually be ceding and how much he would still control the organization, but it sounds like he truly has relinquished the reins.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs

For several months, the Broncos have been linked to adding a quarterback that would at least provide Drew Lock with competition. No such move has transpired, but James Palmer of NFL.com notes GM George Paton is doing extensive research on this year’s crop of QB prospects (video link). Paton attended Trey Lance‘s pro day and mentioned last month that the team will consider a passer at No. 9 overall. However, Palmer expects the Broncos to also be in play for a trade-up — should the team become infatuated with one of the available arms.

While the Broncos are doing homework on all five of the top quarterbacks, they realistically only have a shot at two of them. This draft is, as of now, expected to begin with Trevor Lawrence going to the Jaguars and Zach Wilson heading to New York. Now in possession of the No. 3 overall pick, the 49ers have been linked to Mac Jones more so than Lance or Justin Fields. The Broncos believe Lock will improve next season and do not want to make a quarterback transaction for the sake of making one. Lock was without top receiver Courtland Sutton for most of last season and was transitioning to a new offense without the benefit of onsite offseason work, but he ranked 29th in QBR and led the league in INTs despite missing three games.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • Prior to the Cardinals using the transition tag on Kenyan Drake, Jon Gruden was interested in signing the running back last year, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic (subscription required). The Raiders showed significantly more interest in Drake than anyone else this offseason, per Drake, whom Gruden plans using in the backfield and at wide receiver. Drake’s two-year, $11MM deal includes just $3MM guaranteed in 2021, per Tafur, but carries $5.5MM in guarantees in 2022. Drake totaled just 127 receiving yards with the Cardinals last season, but the former third-round pick should be expected to play a bigger role in the passing game in Las Vegas.
  • The Chiefs hired former defensive coordinator Ken Flajole to replace Britt Reid as outside linebackers coach, the team announced. Flajole’s most notable NFL role came when he served as Rams DC during Steve Spagnuolo‘s three-year stay (2009-11). The Rams went just 10-38 during that stretch. Flajole, 66, will come to Kansas City after spending the past five seasons as Philadelphia’s linebackers coach under Doug Pederson. Reid is no longer with the Chiefs and remains under NFL investigation. Following his February car accident that left a 5-year-old in critical condition, the Chiefs let Reid’s contract expire.
  • The Raiders considered cutting their losses on Carl Nassib‘s three-year, $25MM contract, Tafur adds, but the team instead decided to keep the rotational pass rusher on a restructured deal (subscription required). The team added three void years to Nassib’s contract, spreading out the cap hit through 2025. Nassib is on the Raiders’ cap sheet at just $4.9MM this year; that number rises to $9.2MM in 2022. Releasing Nassib next year would tag the Raiders with a $4.6MM dead-money hit.
  • Drafted third overall as a defensive end four years ago, Solomon Thomas will primarily work as a three-technique tackle with the Raiders, according to Tafur. Thomas is in line to replace Maliek Collins, who defected to the Texans in free agency. A four-year 49ers contributor, Thomas has not come close to living up to his top-five draft status. The Raiders gave him a one-year deal worth $3.25MM.

Latest On Broncos’ Quarterback Situation

Teams have been quick to add to their quarterback rooms this week. After the Patriots re-signed Cam Newton, the likes of Jameis Winston, Tyrod Taylor, Jacoby Brissett, Andy Dalton, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Mitchell Trubisky are off the board.

The Broncos have long been connected to adding a veteran quarterback to compete with Drew Lock, but they have stood down thus far this week. However, GM George Paton confirmed the team’s plan remains to bring in a veteran this offseason.

We like Drew Lock. We have a plan in place. There’s free agency, there’s a draft, there’s trades. There’s a lot of ways to acquire a QB,” Paton said, via 9News’ Mike Klis (on Twitter). “Fortunately, we have a QB here. We do want to bring in competition; we’re not going to force it.”

Some notable veterans who would make sense as Lock competition include Sam Darnold, Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew. While Jimmy Garoppolo has also been linked to trades, there would not be a Garoppolo-Lock competition were the Broncos to acquire the 49ers starter. The Jaguars have received calls on Minshew, and given how other teams have filled their QB needs, it would not be surprising if the Broncos were one of the teams to inquire. It would be interesting to see the Broncos bring in a sixth-round QB from the draft in which they used a second-round pick on Lock. A Darnold move would likely cost Denver a Day 2 pick, potentially requiring a package including a second-round choice and change.

As far as free agents go, some notable names remain. But most of the top UFAs are gone, as should be expected. The Lions shopped Chase Daniel before releasing him; he joins A.J. McCarron, Colt McCoy, Blaine Gabbert and Brian Hoyer as veteran UFAs. Though, each has been a backup for several seasons running. It is also not certain if a team will give Alex Smith the chance to continue his career.

Paton said the Broncos will consider a quarterback at No. 9 overall. The Broncos should be in position to land one of the draft’s top five passer prospects at No. 9, but it is possible four QBs go earlier. That scenario’s potential would put Paton to a decision. The Broncos have used first-round picks on QBs — Paxton Lynch, Tim Tebow and Jay Cutler this century — but have never taken one in the top 10.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos GM On Von Miller, Drew Lock, Phillip Lindsay

George Paton is the Broncos’ new GM, and he’s got his work cut out for him during his first offseason at the helm. Several big decisions loom, including what to do with Von Miller and at quarterback. Speaking to the media Thursday, Paton got into all that and more.

We’ve heard that the Broncos are preparing to franchise tag safety Justin Simmons for the second year in a row, but it sounds like they really want to get an extension done. “Justin is one of our core guys. Our goal is to sign him to a long-term deal,” Paton said, via a tweet from Troy Renck of ABC Denver 7. Simmons seems to be on the same page, reiterating in a recent interview with Sirius XM NFL radio (Twitter link) that he wants to be with the Broncos for the future. “It seems like Denver wants me back, and I want to be there,” Simmons said in part.

As for Miller, he’s got an option that guarantees him significant money that needs to be picked up by March 16th. We’ve heard the team wants him to take a bit of a pay-cut to return in 2021, and Paton said that he’s still working through the details of the option with his agent. “We want to bring Von back. Obviously the legal process, it’s a serious situation. I don’t know all the details. But respect what’s going on. But we do want Von back.” Paton was referring of course to the legal investigation that stems from allegations made by his ex-fiancee. Even with that looming, it sounds like Paton wants to keep the franchise icon in the fold if the financials can work.

Phillip Lindsay is a restricted free agent since he’s a former UDFA, and Paton said the team wants him back as well. “Phillip’s a good player, very passionate. Obviously had some injuries last year. He’s a good player, brings energy, brings juice. He’s a restricted free agent, we do plan on tendering him. I’m not sure what level but we want Phillip here,” he said, via Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link).

Meanwhile, Klis writes that fellow restricted free agent receiver Tim Patrick is expected to get a second-round tender from the Broncos. That would pay him around $3.4MM in 2021. Patrick is coming off a career year where he had 746 yards and six touchdowns. If the team decides $3.4MM is too steep for Lindsay as a split-time running back, they’d tender him at the original-round level, which would mean a team signing him to an offer sheet wouldn’t have to give up any draft pick.

Finally, Paton also talked about the elephant in the room, Drew Lock and his job security. “Obviously did a deep dive with Drew. Very talented, was inconsistent at times. Has a lot to work on. I’ve spoken with Drew, he’s here every day. He’s here early. He really wants to be great,” Paton said, before adding we’re always going to try and bring in competition at every position and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew is on,” Klis tweets.

Those certainly don’t sound like the words of someone who’s committed to Lock as his 2021 starter. Things are up in the air, but we should continue to expect Denver to sniff around potential upgrades while having Lock as the fall-back option if nothing falls into their laps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Multiple Offers Emerged In Broncos-Lions Matthew Stafford Talks

Matthew Stafford listed the Rams atop his destination list, but Mike Klis of 9News notes the longtime Lions quarterback approved the Broncos as a landing spot. And the teams reached the offer stage in their talks.

While the Lions ended up accepting the Rams’ offer centered around two first-round picks, they had interest in both picks and players from the Broncos. The Lions were interested in sending Stafford to Denver because of the Broncos’ No. 9 overall pick, per Klis, who adds Detroit’s new regime was also interested in some of Denver’s young offensive talents.

It is not known which of the Broncos’ rookie-contract wide receivers appealed to the Lions, but Klis adds Drew Lock surfaced in these talks. Lock is coming off a wildly inconsistent season but is attached to a second-round deal that runs through 2022. The Lions instead took back Jared Goff, which allowed them to collect more in trade compensation from the Rams due to the former No. 1 overall pick’s onerous contract, but only will add a third-round pick to their 2021 draft arsenal.

Multiple proposals emerged in the Denver-Detroit talks, but Klis tweets none of the Broncos’ pitches were on the level of the Rams’ offer. Both the Broncos and Lions have new GMs, in George Paton and Brad Holmes, and the teams would have matched up at wide receiver — where the Broncos have three first- or second-round wideouts and the Lions have Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones on the cusp of free agency. It is unclear if Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton or K.J. Hamler surfaced in these trade talks, but Paton ultimately refused to part with the batch of young talents he is inheriting.

Stafford represented an obvious QB upgrade for the Broncos, who have experienced constant issues at the game’s premier spot since Peyton Manning‘s retirement. With Deshaun Watson not being connected to Denver yet, the prospect of the Broncos fielding a Lock-led QB room again is certainly in play. Prior to John Elway‘s exit, the Broncos were believed to be targeting a veteran to compete with Lock. Paton not being tied to Lock may also point to the Broncos giving stronger consideration to using the No. 9 overall pick on a quarterback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Notes: Miller, Paton, Lock

Broncos LB Von Miller is the subject of a criminal investigation in Parker, CO, as Mike Klis of 9News.com was among those to report (via Twitter). Parker police would not comment on the nature of the investigation, though a report from FOX 31 suggests that it pertains to domestic abuse allegations levied against Miller by his ex-fiancée. The Broncos issued a statement indicating they are aware of the situation and are in the process of gathering more info.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, a decision on whether charges will be filed will not be made for several weeks. Obviously, any allegations of domestic violence are serious and outweigh any on-field concerns, but Miller’s future with the Broncos was already in doubt. He missed the entire 2020 campaign due to an ankle injury, and though he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2019, his eight sacks that year marked a career low (aside from a five-sack effort in 2013, when he played in just nine games).

Klis reports in a full-length piece that the Broncos will ask Miller to take a pay cut. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is due a $17.5MM base salary in 2021 — the last year of his current contract — but carries a $22.225MM cap charge due to an earlier restructure. Denver could release him and create $18MM in cap space, and given that Miller is unlikely to earn $17.5MM on the open market, he may be amenable to a reduction in pay. If the domestic allegations are substantiated, he can definitely bank on a suspension.

Now for more from the Mile High City:

  • In the same piece linked above, Klis examines the most pressing questions for new GM George Paton. Paton and HC Vic Fangio will report to John Elway in the team’s revamped power structure, but Paton will have control over personnel matters. One of his first orders of business — aside from the Miller issue — will be to sort out the Broncos’ QB situation. Veteran signal-callers like Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson may or may not be available on the trade market, and even if a blockbuster trade doesn’t happen, Klis expects Paton to bring in legitimate competition for incumbent passer Drew Lock. Paton will also have the No. 9 overall pick at his disposal.
  • The contract situation of safety Justin Simmons will need to be addressed as well. Simmons and the Broncos were unable to come to terms on a multi-year contract last offseason, so the newly-minted Pro Bowler played out the 2020 season under a $11.4MM franchise tag. Klis suggests that Simmons could adjust his asking price on a long-term deal given the expected decrease in the 2021 salary cap, and he also says a second tag — worth about $13.7MM — could be in play.
  • Saints vice president of pro personnel Terry Fontenot was the runner-up to Paton in the Broncos’ GM hunt, as Klis tweets. Denver was able to convince Paton — who had been a hot GM candidate for years — to finally leave Minnesota, but the club was certainly impressed by Fontenot, who is now said to be the Falcons’ top choice for their GM vacancy.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/1/20

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

All Broncos QBs Ineligible For Week 12

The Broncos and the NFL have run into a significant problem. Jeff Driskel‘s positive COVID-19 test earlier this week will lead to an unprecedented situation.

None of the Broncos’ three other QBs will be eligible to play Sunday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles have been deemed high-risk close contacts of Driskel. The NFL forced the Broncos to pull the three passers out of practice earlier today, Mike Klis of 9News tweets.

With the Broncos having no available QBs, this certainly puts the viability of Sunday’s Denver-New Orleans game in doubt. However, this game is still on schedule for Sunday, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. This seems like a tenuous proposition, but as of now, the Broncos would be forced to deploy a true emergency quarterback. They cannot sign any free agent passer to play Sunday, due to COVID-19 protocols.

Driskel’s Thursday positive test coincided with his three non-infected teammates not wearing masks, Schefter adds (on Twitter). It is not known how long the trio went without masks, but it was evidently long enough for the NFL to sideline an entire team’s QB room. The Patriots saw Cam Newton sidelined because of the virus earlier this season, and COVID-positive Lamar Jackson will miss Tuesday’s Ravens-Steelers game — should it stay on as scheduled. But the Broncos’ predicament drags the NFL into new territory regarding the virus.

The Broncos have a wide receiver on their practice squad, Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest for three seasons, Klis adds (on Twitter). Quality control coach Rob Calabrese worked in that role at practice Saturday, Klis tweets. Hinton attempted 251 career passes with the Demon Deacons, though most of them came in 2015. He ran for 390 yards and seven TDs that season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

QB Injury Updates: Brees, Darnold, Minshew, Lock, Dalton

There have been a lot of short-term quarterback injuries recently, and we’ve got a batch of updates to pass along. We heard earlier Monday that Drew Brees is dealing with several cracked ribs as well as a collapsed lung, and now we have a better idea how long he’ll be sidelined. 2-3 weeks is apparently the “most optimistic recovery time” for the veteran, a source told Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Graziano said there’s emphasis on the optimistic part there, indicating it could be quite a bit longer than that.

He also added “there is hope he’s back in time for playoffs,” which doesn’t paint the prettiest picture. It sounds like it’ll be Jameis Winston and/or Taysom Hill for the foreseeable future. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported earlier the Saints weren’t immediately planning on placing Brees on injured reserve, confirming there is some hope he won’t even have to miss three full games. Graziano says it’ll all come down to when they feel like he can take a hit without risk of re-injury. New Orleans will take on the Falcons this weekend, and head coach Sean Payton has already said he won’t name a starting quarterback until closer to kickoff.

Here’s more on the health status of various passers:

  • The Jets will be looking for their first win of the season with Joe Flacco yet again. Sam Darnold will not be able to return this week, they announced Monday. This will be Flacco’s fourth start of the season after Darnold briefly returned before re-injuring his shoulder and hitting the shelf again. Head coach Adam Gase said he could possibly play in Week 12, but that doesn’t sound overly likely at the moment. Darnold himself spoke to the media, and made it sound like the team is going to be very cautious and not play him until he’s 100 percent. He did say he was “very confident” he would play again this season, but we could be looking at another couple of games at least with Flacco under center.
  • Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew also won’t be ready to return this week, head coach Doug Marrone said Monday, meaning sixth-round rookie Jake Luton will get his third-straight start. It does sound like Minshew is getting closer though, as Marrone said he’ll start throwing routes again in practice this week, via Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com (Twitter link).
  • Drew Lock melted down against the Raiders on Sunday with four interceptions, but he apparently wasn’t 100 percent healthy. Lock has a muscle strain around his ribs, a source told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). Head coach Vic Fangio acknowledged that his status for this weekend’s game against the Dolphins is in doubt. He also reiterated that he’s not considering benching the second-year pro assuming he’s healthy, even though he’s been struggling mightily recently. If he isn’t able to suit up Brett Rypien is currently the number two, although the team also has veteran Blake Bortles on the practice squad.
  • In better news, it looks like the Cowboys won’t have quite as chaotic a situation any more under center. Coach Mike McCarthy announced Monday that Andy Dalton had been cleared to fully return to practice, and he should start this Sunday against the Vikings. Dalton has missed the past two games after suffering a concussion and then testing positive for COVID-19. Seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci and former undrafted AAF star Garrett Gilbert started in his place.

AFC West Notes: Bell, Broncos, Nassib, Bolts

Less than an hour after Le’Veon Bell‘s Jets departure became official, rumors about his new team are surfacing. While Bell’s suitor list is not yet known, many around the league expect the Chiefs to be interested in the former All-Pro back, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The Chiefs made a somewhat similar move last year, signing LeSean McCoy — after the Bills cut him — to play behind then-starter Damien Williams. Kansas City used a first-round pick on Clyde Edwards-Helaire but has lower-profile backs Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson — after Damien Williams’ July opt-out — backing up the rookie. Bell, whose disappointing Jets stay secured him nearly $30MM, will prioritize his fit in an offense and a team’s chances of contending before choosing his next destination, per Fowler. Bell returned in Week 5 from a hamstring injury and averaged 4.62 yards per carry on 13 totes in the Jets’ loss to the Cardinals.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • While Cam Newton‘s return to the Patriots’ active roster points to the Broncos facing him and not Jarrett Stidham this week, Drew Lock also appears on the verge of a return. The Denver starter participated fully in practice Wednesday. A Week 6 return would be in the timeframe initially set after Lock’s Week 2 shoulder injury. The Broncos used two different starters, running their post-Peyton Manning total to nine, in Lock’s absence. Were Lock to be held out another week, Brett Rypien would be in line to log a second start.
  • Mark Barron‘s Broncos debut remains on hold. On IR because of a hamstring injury, Barron suffered a pectoral malady that will delay his return to action, Mike Klis of 9News tweets. The Broncos signed Barron late in the summer, but the former first-round pick does not have a clear-cut return date.
  • The Raiders are also going to be without a rotational defender for a bit. Carl Nassib suffered a broken toe during the team’s win over the Chiefs, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). It is, in fact, a big toe injury. The former Browns and Buccaneers pass rusher will likely be out a while, though a concrete timetable does not exist yet. An offseason addition, Nassib has played just more than a fourth of Las Vegas’ defensive snaps this season.
  • The Dolphins recently promoted running back Salvon Ahmed to their active roster. They did so after the Chargers expressed interest in poaching Ahmed off Miami’s practice squad, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The Chargers are down Austin Ekeler presently and have just two backs — Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley — on their active roster. A rookie UDFA out of Washington, Ahmed has yet to dress for an NFL game.