The 2018 NFL regular season begins exactly three weeks from today, and the Denver Broncos are nowhere close to resolving their depth chart issues at quarterback. Back in March, the Broncos inked Case Keenum to a two-year, $36 million contract to presumably take over as their starting quarterback. In his six-year career, Keenum has posted a 20-18 record as a starter, and never really jumped off the page until last season when he helped lead the Minnesota Vikings to an NFC Championship Game appearance following a season-ending injury to Sam Bradford.
Paxton Lynch was expected to assume the backup role this year, but given all he has shown or lack thereof, he may not even be fit to have a spot on the final 53-man roster. Earlier this week, the franchise announced that Lynch was being demoted to running the offense with the third team. That meant this year’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” a.k.a. the last player selected (253rd) in the NFL Draft, Ole Miss’s Chad Kelly would be bumped up to the second team. If Keenum were to go down with an injury during the season, the team is left to choose between an unproven Kelly and an underwhelming Lynch.
On Thursday, Broncos general manager John Elway was asked if the team would consider getting help through free agency, and more specifically, reach out to Colin Kaepernick. Elway rejected the idea, claiming that the organization offered him a contract, and he didn’t take it. “You know what, and I said this a while ago: Colin had his chance to be here. We offered him a contract. He didn't take it," Elway said, per ESPN. “As I said in my deposition ... he's had his chance to be here. He passed it."
Elway’s account of this story isn’t 100 percent true. Elway met with Kaepernick in 2016 when Denver was exploring a potential trade for the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback. To get the deal done, the Broncos wanted Kap to lower his guaranteed salary from $11.9 million to $7 million. When he continuously refused to cave into those demands following several meetings, the Broncos pulled out of negotiations and wound up making a move to grab Lynch late in the first round of the draft later that year.
If Elway is hellbent on not signing a player after he rejected the organization’s previous offer, then why did he pursue Brock Osweiler after he left the team to join the Houston Texans in 2016? The Broncos signed Osweiler to the minimum base salary last season despite an awful 15-game stretch with the Texans where he threw more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (15) in that span.
Let’s call it what it is. Elway can flip around the narrative all he wants, he just doesn’t want Kaepernick on the Broncos.