General manager John Elway has taken a step to remedy this situation by signing former Minnesota Vikings starting QB Case Keenum. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first broke the news:
When free agency opens Wednesday, former Vikings’ QB Case Keenum intends to sign with the Denver Broncos, sources tell ESPN.
First QB domino has fallen.
QB race is on.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 13, 2018
Keenum Had a Career Year with the Vikings
Despite setting an NCAA passing record with 19,217 yards, Case Keenum has been an unheralded pro prospect throughout his 5-year NFL career.
He spent two seasons with both the Houston Texans and L.A. Rams to begin his career, starting a number of games with both teams. But he never truly flashed the skills of a franchise QB with either squad.
The 30-year-old never disappointed, having a career season with 3,547 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. He also competed 67.6% of his passes, which is over 7% higher than any other season.
Still, Minnesota failed to make a long-term commitment to Keenum. And with both Bradford and Bridgewater still in the mix, it’s unclear what the Vikings will do moving forward.
Denver Chooses Keenum Over Cousins
As I discussed earlier, the Broncos were interested in Kirk Cousins. But the ex-Washington Redskins QB is also looking for a deal that would involve a short 3-4 year window. Most teams like to lock up franchise quarterbacks for 7 years, with options from years 5-7.
Broncos adviser and former coach Gary Kubiak suggested that Elway should go after Keenum, rather than further continuing in the Cousins sweepstakes.
In an ironic twist, Cousins is going to sign a deal with the Vikings.
Deal Reportedly worth $36 Million Over 2 Years
Keenum may be cheaper than Cousins, but he wasn’t ultimately that cheap. Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reports that the contract is worth $36 million over two years, with $25 million of this guaranteed.
The contract details for #Broncos QB Case Keenum: It's two years for $36 million. Full $36 million guaranteed for injury. $25 million guaranteed for skill and cap.
— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 14, 2018
According to 2017 statistics, the top 14 NFL quarterbacks earn an average of $19 million per season. This means that Keenum, at $18 million per year, is around the middle of all starting QBs.
Broncos Solve a Glaring Problem
Last year’s starting QB Trevor Siemian saved the team an incredible amount of money, because he was on a rookie deal that paid less than $700,000. But the old adage that you get what you pay for definitely applies here. Siemian struggled throughout the year and eventually got injured.
Backups Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch weren’t any better in his place. And a team that started the year 3-1 and entered Super Bowl conversations ultimately lost 10 of their final 12 games. They also finished last in the AFC West, which few saw coming.
The Broncos are early into what’s expected to be a big market for quarterbacks this offseason. The Cleveland Browns traded for former Bills QB Tyrod Taylor, Minnesota is signing Cousins, and the Redskins traded for former Chiefs QB Alex Smith.
Don’t expect the market to wind down either, because the Bills, New York Jets, and Arizona Cardinals are also actively looking for a signal caller. Each team has the pieces to compete for a playoff spot if they can just get a good starting quarterback.