Drew Lock

This Date In Transactions History: Broncos QB Drew Lock Signs Rookie Contract

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.

Poll: Who Will Be Broncos’ Primary QB Starter In 2021?

One of the key points in this year’s draft came at No. 9, when the Broncos — who did extensive work on quarterbacks coming in — passed on Justin Fields and Mac Jones to select Patrick Surtain II. Denver passing on potential long-term starters transpired shortly after new Denver GM George Paton acquired Teddy Bridgewater from the Panthers.

With the Broncos choosing Surtain, Bridgewater and Drew Lock reside as their quarterbacks. They split reps down the middle this offseason and will continue this competition during training camp, when chapter six in the franchise’s post-Super Bowl 50 quarterback saga commences in earnest.

The Broncos have started an NFL-most 10 players at quarterback — counting Phillip Lindsay‘s wildcat snap in the COVID-19-created Kendall Hinton game last season — since Peyton Manning‘s March 2016 retirement. Denver has tried free agency (Case Keenum, the second Brock Osweiler acquisition), the trade market (Joe Flacco, Bridgewater) and the draft (Lock, Paxton Lynch) to fill this spot. The Broncos’ most successful post-Manning season — 2016, when the team went 9-7 — came with 2015 seventh-rounder Trevor Siemian at the controls.

Now on his fifth team, Bridgewater is still just 28 and has a history with Paton. The Vikings drafted the Louisville alum in the 2014 first round, when Paton was working as GM Rick Spielman‘s top lieutenant. The former Jets (briefly), Saints and Panthers passer has developed a reputation as a risk-averse passer, and Carolina was eager to jettison him after authorizing a three-year, $63MM deal in 2020. The trade agreement knocked Bridgewater’s 2021 cap hit down to just $4.4MM and made him a 2022 free agent. But Bridgewater makes sense for a team with high-end defensive capabilities, which a healthy Broncos iteration possesses.

Bridgewater finished 17th in QBR last season; Lock ranked 29th. The 2019 second-round pick was often erratic during his second NFL season, tying for the NFL INT lead (15) despite missing three games. Lock, however, was thrust into an unusual spot in 2020 — learning a new offense in a virtual offseason — and lacked top receiver Courtland Sutton for most of the season. But Lock’s grace period is over, with longtime GM John Elway ceding the reins to Paton.

The elephant in this room: will the Broncos’ interest in Aaron Rodgers be relevant soon? The Broncos have lapped the field in Rodgers rumors, with the Raiders — another team Rodgers is open to joiningcomfortable with Derek Carr for the time being. Depending on which skill-position players would be left in Denver after a trade, Rodgers would be equipped with a host of young weapons and a defense positioned to be one of the league’s best.

Even as some around the league wonder if the Packers are bracing for the reigning MVP’s exit, they are holding firm and possess leverage. Despite a return that could feature two or three first-round picks and one or more established young starters, Green Bay is understandably clinging to hopes this situation can be salvaged. The Bengals traded disgruntled QB Carson Palmer in October 2011, after the incumbent had staged a retirement in an effort to leave Cincinnati, and Palmer made nine starts for the Raiders that year. The Broncos likely would be open to a Rodgers in-season arrival, but ideally for them, the Packers begin trade discussions before the season.

Denver passing on Fields also leaves the door open, albeit narrowly, for Deshaun Watson. Twelve years younger than Rodgers, at 25, Watson is believed to be interested in being traded to the Broncos. The team had Watson on its radar as well. Kareem Jackson, conflict of interest notwithstanding, said his former Texans teammate has Denver atop his destination list. The Broncos are believed to prefer Rodgers to Watson, with the latter’s off-field issues undoubtedly factoring into this equation. Watson faces an uncertain future, with the Commissioner’s Exempt List and/or a suspension potentially looming. But if clarity emerges here before the trade deadline, the Broncos — assuming they do not acquire Rodgers — may be back in play for the three-time Pro Bowler.

Will the Broncos end up swinging a trade this year, or will 2022 be the window for such a transaction? Can Bridgewater or Lock seize the job and halt Rodgers and Watson rumors for good? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Teddy Bridgewater Discusses Broncos QB Competition

The Broncos may have made a trade for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, but that doesn’t mean the veteran is going to run away with the starting gig. Rather, he’ll have to compete with 2020 starter Drew Lock, with head coach Vic Fangio recently saying that the two signal-callers will split reps during OTAs and training camp.

[RELATED: Broncos To Split QB Reps 50-50 Between Lock, Bridgewater]

While Bridgewater has the experience on his side, he’s not taking anything for granted as he competes with Lock for the top spot on the depth chart. Rather, the 28-year-old said he’s always had the mindset of having to compete for his job.

“Every day I wake up, I consider myself competing for my job,” Bridgewater told the team’s website. “I think that’s the mindset of everyone who plays this game. Whether I was penciled in as being the starter or if I had to compete, my mindset is this is a competition. … In this league, so much happens.

“Of course, that’s my mindset [to start], but at the same time, I have to take it one day at a time and continue to be the best teammate I can be today and let tomorrow take care of itself.”

Lock only has 18 career starts to his credit, but it’s been a mixed bag when he’s under center. In 13 games last season, the Missouri product threw 16 TD passes against a league-worst 15 picks, leading to a poor 75.4 quarterback rating. Bridgewater was a a little better in his lone season in Carolina, but his 2020 campaign can fairly be characterized as disappointing as well, especially when measured against the three-year, $63MM contract he signed with the Panthers last offseason. Bridgewater ultimately finished the campaign having completed 69.1-percent of his passes for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.

For what it’s worth, Bridgewater doesn’t have much catching up to do when it comes to scheme, as the quarterback worked with Broncos offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur when the two were in Minnesota.

“It’s helped a lot,” Bridgewater said. “There is some carryover from my days in Minnesota, but at the same time, a lot has changed. I’ve been in a couple of different systems. I see players that I’m familiar with and it’s been a smooth transition with the install.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Split QB Reps 50-50 Between Lock, Bridgewater

As of now, the Broncos have not traded for Packers signal-caller Aaron Rodgers. Unless and until Rodgers is dealt to Denver, 2019 second-round pick Drew Lock and new trade acquisition Teddy Bridgewater will engage in an open competition for the team’s starting QB job.

Head coach Vic Fangio confirmed as much in an interview with Mike Klis of 9News.com. Although Fangio conceded he wasn’t sure which of Lock or Bridgewater would get the first set of reps in OTAs or training camp, he said, “it will be something that at the end of the day, maybe not at the end of every day, but over the course of OTAs and training camp, it’ll be 50-50.”

Lock only has 18 career starts to his credit, but he is already being mentioned as one of a number of failed QBs that led to John Elway‘s loss of decision-making power. In 13 games last season, the Missouri product threw 16 TD passes against a league-worst 15 picks, leading to a poor 75.4 quarterback rating.

Bridgewater was a a little better in his lone season in Carolina, but his 2020 campaign can fairly be characterized as disappointing as well, especially when measured against the three-year, $63MM contract he signed with the Panthers last offseason. He offers the experience and accuracy that Lock does not have at this point, though Lock’s ceiling is higher.

Fangio, predictably, had good things to say about both passers. “I think Drew’s had a helluva offseason up to this point, albeit we haven’t been on the field,” he said. “I think Drew is going to look good here in the offseason when we do hit the field. And I’ve been an admirer of Teddy Bridgewater for many years. … He’s a good football player. A good quarterback. He’s got deceptive scramble ability. He’s got really good pocket feel. He’s got great leadership abilities. I think he’s an accurate passer and processes very well so we’re happy.”

Regardless of which player wins the job, the Broncos currently have the least desirable QB situation in the AFC West. But new GM George Paton passed on the opportunity to draft a quarterback like Ohio State’s Justin Fields, so he obviously feels good enough about where things stand right now. However, the rest of Denver’s roster looks pretty strong, and the team could be one elite QB away from making serious noise in the AFC. As such, a Rodgers pursuit could still be in the cards.

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QB Rumors: Patriots, Raiders, Lock, Love

If the Patriots do not opt to make a trade up for one of this draft’s top five quarterback prospects, or if none falls to New England at No. 15, the team could conceivably turn to Jimmy Garoppolo. The Pats, of course, sent Garoppolo to the 49ers nearly four years ago and have a need at quarterback — the Cam Newton re-signing notwithstanding. Tom Brady‘s former backup appears to be on New England’s radar. While a Thursday-morning report indicated Garoppolo is likely to stay put, some in the Patriots organization are wondering if San Francisco will realize keeping Garoppolo and the quarterback it selects at No. 3 overall tonight will not make sense, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes. The Patriots would figure to be at or near the top of Jimmy G’s wishlist, given his familiarity with Josh McDaniels‘ system. Garoppolo has a no-trade clause, giving him say in where he is dealt — if/when he is traded.

On a rather big day for the position, here is the latest from the QB world:

  • Jon Gruden has met with a few of this year’s top quarterback prospects, per Albert Breer of SI.com. Teams were permitted to conduct virtual meetings with an unlimited number of virtual prospects this year, with the pandemic still nixing “30” visits. Perennially linked to aiming for a Derek Carr upgrade, the Raiders have scouted QBs in this class. They have also discussed potential trade-ups from No. 17, Breer adds. Carr is going into Year 4 with Gruden, and although he has played well, the Las Vegas HC has been known to covet other passers from time to time.
  • If the Broncos pull the trigger on a quarterback at No. 9 or trade up from that position to snag one, Breer notes Drew Lock would be expected to go on the trade block as soon as Friday. The Broncos would certainly not recoup a second-rounder for their former second-round QB choice, but Breer notes the Vikings and Panthers would be teams in the Lock mix in this scenario. The Vikings have acquired two ex-Bronco QBs in recent years — Trevor Siemian and Kyle Sloter — to back up Kirk Cousins, while the Panthers just dealt Teddy Bridgewater to Denver. Bridgewater would make sense as a mentor to a quarterback the Broncos select — Justin Fields or Trey Lance perhaps — but Lock would not have a place on the team in this scenario.
  • The Packers are running away with the draft-day news cycle lead, despite not picking until No. 29 tonight. The Aaron Rodgers saga hitting a fever pitch thrusts Jordan Love back into the spotlight. Despite Green Bay’s first-round pick last year receiving zero regular-season snaps, the team remains high on him and is pleased by his development, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The Packers let QB2 Tim Boyle go this offseason, moving Love up to Rodgers’ primary backup. Rodgers appears keen on letting Love receive another promotion.

Poll: How Will Broncos Address QB Need?

The only two starting quarterbacks to retire after winning Super Bowls played for the same franchise. While the Broncos made the playoffs multiple times in the five years following John Elway‘s retirement — with the likes of Brian Griese and Jake Plummer operating as the team’s primary starters — they have hovered off the contention radar for most of their post-Peyton Manning stretch. No team has started more quarterbacks than Denver’s 10 (counting the Kendall Hinton game) since 2016.

This stretch has placed the Broncos back on the quarterback radar. Although their last foray into the first-round market careened off course quickly (Paxton Lynch in 2016), the Broncos’ three subsequent QB investments — Case Keenum, Joe Flacco and Drew Lock — largely struggled. Will this run of futility at the NFL’s premier position force the Broncos to acquire one of this year’s top QB prospects?

New GM George Paton has said multiple times this offseason the Broncos will acquire a quarterback to push Lock, but it is not certain that will be a rookie. Denver brass, however, did extensive work on this year’s top passer crop. Paton was at Justin Fields and Trey Lance‘s initial pro days, while offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur trekked to the second workouts held by the Ohio State and North Dakota State QBs. Other teams have viewed Denver as a stealth quarterback seeker as well.

Only two of the draft’s top five passing prospects will be available to teams picking after No. 3, with the 49ers moving up for a quarterback. Considering the needs of some teams picking outside the top 10 — the Patriots, Washington and Bears have been linked to trade-up maneuvers — and the not-impossible prospect of the Lions (No. 7) or Panthers (No. 8) jumping into the fray, it is possible the Broncos will be left out if they stand pat at No. 9. They are believed to have inquired about trading up, though Paton denied this. The Falcons (No. 4), Dolphins (No. 6), Lions and Panthers are all open to trades, creating opportunities for the Broncos and teams eager to trade in front of them.

Given the Broncos’ above-average defense and bevy of skill-position weapons, going into another season with Lock (29th in 2020 QBR) could lower the team’s ceiling — in a hot-seat year for Vic Fangio. But Fangio’s status could also push the team to trade for a veteran instead of hoping this year’s fourth- or fifth-best QB prospect can make an impact right away. Although the Broncos sat out the free agent market and passed on trades for Carson Wentz and Sam Darnold — after falling short for Matthew Stafford — veteran arms remain available.

Paton was with the Vikings when they drafted Teddy Bridgewater in the 2014 first round; Carolina has since given Bridgewater permission to seek a trade. Given Paton’s history with the 28-year-old QB, it would make sense if the Broncos were one of the teams interestedGardner Minshew figures to be available — even though Urban Meyer denied it. The 49ers are holding out for a big offer to part with now-lame-duck starter Jimmy Garoppolo.

Lock has not been blessed with great circumstances, despite Denver drafting Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler in the first and second rounds last year. The pandemic nixed the young passer’s first offseason with Shurmur, and No. 1 receiver Courtland Sutton went down in Week 2 last year. But the 2022 quarterback class, as of now, has received far less hype than the past two drafts’ QB crops generated. The Broncos not making a move for Fields, Lance or Mac Jones next week could limit their options going forward.

How do you think the Broncos will play this? Will they prioritize acquiring another quarterback by trading up or hope one falls to No. 9? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts on this situation in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos GM Paton: Haven’t Called About Moving Up, Will Bring In QB Competition

We heard just a couple of days ago that the Broncos were a team potentially looking to move up in the draft. Speaking to the media today, new GM George Paton made it sound like that’s not something he’s planning on as of right now.

Paton says the team has not made any calls about moving up in the draft from their current ninth spot, James Palmer of NFL Network tweets. Paton also said has received calls from teams looking to move up next week. If Denver truly does stand pat at nine, they likely wouldn’t be able to draft one of the true top passers.

That’s relevant, because notably Paton did confirm bluntly that the Broncos are going to bring in a new quarterback to push Drew Lock. “We want to bring in competition at the quarterback position,” Paton said, via Mike Klis of Denver 9 News (Twitter link).

It doesn’t get much clearer than that. Lock certainly can’t be considered etched in stone as the Broncos’ Week 1 starter at this point. Paton also didn’t rule out moving up in the draft, saying something could materialize on draft day, only that nothing is in the works right now. If the team doesn’t draft a quarterback early it’s unclear what kind of competition they’d bring in, since the veteran market has mostly dried up. Paton did refer to a “trade market,” so maybe they could swing a deal for another team’s veteran backup.

It’s possible that if the Broncos don’t trade up and miss out on the first-round guys, they could draft a quarterback on Day 2. At that point, Davis Mills of Stanford, Kyle Trask of Florida, and Kellen Mond of Texas A&M would all be realistic options.

Workouts Latest: Lock, Pack, Pats, Cowboys

Although the Broncos were the first team to go along with the NFLPA’s proposed boycott of the voluntary offseason workout slate, several of their players were present for the first day of workouts Monday. Drew Lock was among the 20-plus Broncos in attendance for Phase I of the team’s offseason program, Mike Klis of 9News notes. Lock has a $75K workout bonus in his contract, joining fellow 2019 second-round pick Dalton Risner in that regard. Risner said Saturday he would attend regardless of the bonus; Denver’s other starting guard, Graham Glasgow, said he would attend as well. While many Bronco veterans are following through with the boycott, Klis notes this only applies to the onsite workouts. All were present for the virtual meetings Monday. It would certainly behoove Lock to attend, given his uncertain status. The Broncos are expected to add a quarterback; it just is not known if it will be a veteran competitor or a first-round replacement. Agents have encouraged other young players to attend workouts as well, Klis tweets.

With teams’ offseason programs beginning Monday, here is the latest from the workout front:

  • While a small number of the NFL’s 4,500 players have workout bonuses (230), many on the Packers do. Green Bay’s players have not joined the NFLPA boycott, but the Packers have offered an interesting compromise to their workforce. The Packers proposed a deal that would allow players to satisfy their workout bonuses without coming to the facility to train for Phase I, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. Although various teams’ statements cite COVID-19 concerns, Florio adds that the boycott effort is more about players learning last year they do not need to spend extensive time training at team facilities in the offseason. Many veterans would prefer to train on their own before on-field work starts May 17, and Florio notes they are prepared to assume the risk of an offsite injury. The Packers’ proposal would not protect players if they suffered injuries away from the team’s facility.
  • The NFL and NFLPA remain at an impasse on the offseason schedule. Part of the reason for this: a small group of owners believe the quality of play did suffer last season — particularly along offensive lines — and are holding out for offseason workouts to take place, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. The bulk of coaches, as should be expected, are in favor of onsite workouts remaining on the spring docket.
  • Despite the Raiders being one of the teams to join the boycott, some of their players reported to their facility Monday, according to The Associated Press. Some members of the Cowboys, Panthers and Patriots did as well. The Pats also indicated many of their players would not attend. Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said “a lot” of players were present Monday.
  • The Eagles and Vikings are the latest to announce they will not attend offseason workouts. The Vikings’ statement indicates many of their players will not attend (Twitter links); such language has been included in several teams’ statements.

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.