The Denver Broncos desperately need a quarterback.
With Peyton Manning announcing his retirement on Monday and Brock Osweiler singing on a four-year, $72 million deal with the Houston Texans on Wednesday, the Broncos are left with only Trevor Siemian—a seventh-round pick in 2015—on the roster at quarterback.
It’s time for general manager John Elway to produce some more magic for the defending champions.
The quarterback market is shallow, but here are five options the Broncos should pursue to fill the hole left by Osweiler:
The 49ers have long maintained that Kaepernick would be staying in San Francisco, but the quarterback opening in Denver has suddenly redeveloped his trade market. The Broncos, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets are all believed to be interested in a deal for the 28-year-old quarterback. Kaepernick was benched for Blaine Gabbert and eventually landed on season-ending injured reserve in 2015, but he was a game-changing player during the 49ers’ dominant run in 2012-13. Could a fresh start in Denver with Gary Kubiak be his remedy? The Broncos are built similarly to those really good San Francisco teams.
Robert Griffin III
Griffin III might be the most attractive quarterback available on the open market, given his age (26) and redemption potential after a lost 2015 season. The 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Griffin III struggled to stay on the field after a transcendent first season, and clashes with head coaches Mike Shanahan and Jay Gruden eventually landed him on the bench. The Redskins stashed him on the sidelines last season, in part to protect him from injury and the guaranteed money of the fifth-year option. Kubiak’s run-first, pocket-moving offense could be a great fit for Griffin III, who was at his best in a similar system during his rookie season.
Amazingly, the safest option here is probably Fitzpatrick, who landed in New York last season and threw a career high 31 touchdown passes for the 10-6 Jets. He’ll turn 34 years old in November, but he’s no stranger to change (played for six NFL teams), and he’d keep the Broncos in a win-now mode for at least the 2016 season. Keep in mind, Denver won 12 regular-season games with Manning and Osweiler combining to throw 19 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Fitzpatrick is still expected to re-sign with the Jets, but a push from Elway and the Broncos could change everything. The one snag: He probably won’t come cheap.
For better or worse, the Rams appear committed to Case Keenum, a restricted free agent who was given a first-round tender. Unless Los Angeles is dead set on having Foles as the backup, he could become a viable trade option. It’s definitely not an ideal option, as Foles looked like a battered quarterback before losing his starting job for the Rams last season. Then again, he is just a few years removed from throwing 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions for the Eagles, and he’d be a relatively cheap, short-term option as the Broncos groom a young draft pick.
The Eagles brought back Sam Bradford on a $35 million deal and signed Chase Daniel for another $21 million, making it a matter of when—not if—the team moves on from Sanchez. A trade could be possible, especially if a team like the Broncos continues to strike out at quarterback. Sanchez might be a running joke for some, but he wasn’t absolutely terrible as a backup with the Eagles over the last two seasons. Over 13 games and 10 starts, he completed almost 65 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and a passer rating of 86.6. Team him with a top draft pick and the Broncos could get by at quarterback in 2016.
Others to consider: Brian Hoyer, Josh Johnson, T.J. Yates, Scott Tolzien, Brandon Weeden