Kirk Cousins was the unequivocal jewel of this year’s free agent quarterback class in just about everyone’s mind but John Elway’s.
”We got our guy Broncos Josey Jewell Jersey ,” the Denver Broncos general manager said Friday at Case Keenum’s introductory news conference. ”We got the guy that was our target.”
Even though Keenum was No. 1 in Elway’s eyes, he was viewed over the last several weeks as something of a runner-up even in the Broncos locker room.
Several stars such as Von Miller, Brandon Marshall and Emmanuel Sanders campaigned for Cousins, issuing public pleas for the ex-Washington QB who ultimately signed a three-year, $84 million deal with Minnesota.
Keenum, who led the Vikings to the NFC championship game after replacing an injured Sam Bradford and going 11-3, said his phone has ”been blowing up” with congratulatory texts from his new teammates – Miller’s was the first – and he brushed aside all that cajoling of Cousins, too.
”I applaud those guys for wanting to make their team better,” Keenum said after signing his two-year, $36 million deal that includes $25 million in guarantees. ”I want guys that want their team to be great, that want to do everything they can to help the team. So, no, it’s not awkward to me at all.”
Neither will it be clumsy, Keenum insisted http://www.raidersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-nick-nelson-jersey , if Elway decides to use the fifth overall pick in next month’s NFL draft on another quarterback.
This year’s class is unusually deep at quarterback with as many as six teams expected to use first-round picks on passers, and Elway has a high draft pick for the first time since selecting Miller at No. 2 in 2011.
”I’ve been around long enough to know that anything is a possibility in this league. I was a starting quarterback when a team drafted somebody No. 1 overall and traded a bunch of draft picks. I know how that goes,” Keenum said, recalling when the Rams selected Jared Goff in 2016.
”I know that my teammates, my coaches and the front office – everyone – is doing everything they possibly can to be the best Denver Broncos that we can possibly be. For me, it doesn’t change my mindset. It really doesn’t.”
Elway spent the week scoping out QB prospects Baker Mayfield and Josh Rosen during their pro days and issued invitations to Sam Darnold and Mayfield for interviews at team headquarters in the coming weeks.
Yet, landing Keenum gives Elway the flexibility to draft a blue chip prospect such as Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson or North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb should there be an early run on quarterbacks.
That would give Keenum a premier pick to help him rather than his eventual replacement to fend off as long as he can.
”We have a lot of opportunities at five now,” Elway said.
The Broncos are coming off a 5-11 season in which they cycled through Elway’s former draft picks Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler at quarterback. They’re sending Siemian to Minnesota. Osweiler is a free agent and Lynch is now Keenum’s backup. He also won’t have the chance to earn the starting job in training camp like he had the last two summers.
Coach Vance Joseph welcomes the lack of another quarterback competition, saying it’s good for players and coaches to just focus on building an offensive scheme rather than wondering who will be running it.
Elway lauded Keenum’s renowned work ethic, his leadership and his success after going undrafted out of the University of Houston but building a strong resume with the Texans, Rams and Vikings.
”As far as leadership qualities, the grit that he has, the way that he plays the game Authentic Nathan Shepherd Jersey , the way that he competes, he was the perfect fit for us,” Elway said.
The Broncos’ crush on Keenum goes way back, too.
Senior personnel adviser Gary Kubiak gave him his start in the NFL and coached him in Houston for two years when Joseph was on the Texans’ staff.
The Broncos even tried to pry Keenum away from the Rams after Peyton Manning retired two years ago only to be rebuffed.
Keenum, who only had one scholarship offer after high school, isn’t used to such fawning.
”To have a team pursue me, and like John said, to be their guy, that instills a lot of confidence in me and I am ready to be that guy,” Keenum said. ”I know I am, and I’m excited to be the Denver Broncos’ quarterback.”
BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-7)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WRs Mike Wallace and Michael Campanaro; TEs Benjamin Watson and Crockett Gillmore; Cs Ryan Jensen and Luke Bowanko; QB Ryan Mallett; RB Terrance West; CB Brandon Boykin; LB Steven Johnson.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
NEEDS: Even if they retain Wallace and Campanaro, Ravens are going after big-play wide receiver. Baltimore appears ready to give up on 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman, who has thus far been bust. Baltimore also needs pass rusher to help out 35-year-old Terrell Suggs and could use more depth on offensive line, especially if Hurst and Jensen end up elsewhere. Tight end is also trouble spot John Smoltz Jersey , given that Watson is 37 and Gillmore has struggled to stay healthy.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $4.3 million.
BUFFALO BILLS (9-8)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WRs Jordan Matthews, Deonte Thompson, Brandon Tate, and Jeremy Butler; CBs E.J. Gaines, Leonard Johnson, and Shareece Wright; LBs Preston Brown and Ramon Humber; DT Cedric Thornton; Ss Colt Anderson and Shamarko Thomas; RBs Travaris Cadet and Taiwan Jones; FB Mike Tolbert; OT Seantrel Henderson; QB Joe Webb.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
NEEDS: Quarterback moved to the top of the list after Buffalo traded three-year starter Tyrod Taylor to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for a third-round pick. The deal leaves Nathan Peterman – a fifth-round draft pick last year – as the only quarterback on the roster. Aside from free agency, the Bills are anticipated to select a quarterback in the draft. The defensive front seven could be in store for major overhaul, though Williams re-signed. Starters Brown and Humber are eligible for free agency. Unanticipated hole to fill is center after Eric Woods was diagnosed with career-ending neck injury in January. Bills already addressed needs by signing nine-year veteran CB Vontae Davis and running back Chris Ivory, who is expected to take over as LeSean McCoy’s primary backup.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $37 million.
CINCINNATI BENGALS (7-9)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB AJ McCarron; C Russell Bodine; TE Tyler Eifert; RBs Jeremy Hill and Cedric Peerman; P Kevin Huber; LB Kevin Minter; OTs Andre Smith and Eric Winston; DT Pat Sims.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
NEEDS: McCarron won grievance against Bengals, making him free agent and giving team unexpected task of finding backup for Andy Dalton. Bodine has started every game in past four seasons and team would like to keep him. Offensive line is priority after struggling to protect Dalton and open holes for running backs. Eifert has been injury-prone TE but when healthy is one of Dalton’s favorite targets near goal line. Offense finished last in league and needs major all-around upgrade.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $32.4 million.
CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-16)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Isaiah Crowell; LB Tank Carder.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DL Jamie Meder.
NEEDS: S, maybe LT. Cleveland figured to be in market for veteran quarterback, but that changed Friday when team acquired Tyrod Taylor in trade with Buffalo. Arrival of dynamic Taylor would seem to rule out Browns making run at AJ McCarron or any other free agent QBs. Still, team is expected to use No. 1 overall draft pick on a young QB to compete with Taylor or maybe start at some point in 2018. Browns also added wide receiver Jarvis Landry via trade, but would like to add depth at what has been troublesome position. Star left tackle Joe Thomas still hasn’t told team if he plans to keep playing or retire. If Thomas is done DJ Moore Color Rush Jersey , team will need to address replacing future Hall of Famer. Browns have been league’s youngest team past two seasons and need infusion of both talent and experience in free agency.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE (approximately): $113 million.
DENVER BRONCOS (5-11)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: ILBs Todd Davis and Corey Nelson; DEs Jared Crick and Billy Wynn; QB Brock Osweiler; WR Cody Latimer; TE Virgil Green; RB Jamaal Charles; OL Allen Barbre; OT Donald Stephenson; G Billy Turner.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: G Shaquil Barrett; WR Bennie Fowler; C Matt Paradis.
NEEDS: After last year’s deflating draft class produced so little, Broncos need upgrades throughout roster but especially on offense. GM John Elway said high-priced WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, both of whom underperformed last season, will be back. That would make for attractive draw for veteran QB. They need to bolster running backs corps and do usual O-line fix, which has become annual rite of spring in Denver. Even with Jake Butt back from ACL surgery, they could use some more tight end prowess. On defense, they’re no longer elite unit that carried them to Super Bowl 50 title, but still very good behind Von Miller, MVP of Pro Bowl. They could use some jolts at linebacker and even in secondary, which for years was among league’s best.
AVAILABLE SALARY CAP SPACE: $24 million.
HOUSTON TEXANS (4-12)
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CBs Johnathan Joseph and Marcus Williams; RBs Alfred Blue, Andre Ellington and Jordan Todman; OTs Chris Clark and Breno Giacomini; Ss Marcus Gilchrist and Eddie Pleasant; G Xavier Su’a-Filo; QBs Tom Savage, Josh Johnson and T.J. Yates; OLB Jelani Jenkins; WR Bruce Ellington.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: ILBs Ben Heeney and Brian Peters; DE Angelo Blackson; WR Cobi Hamilton; C Greg Mancz.
NEEDS: Texans look to have finally found franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson. Now they need to upgrade offensive line to keep him protected when he returns from knee injury this season. They’ll likely let Clark and Su’a-Filo go in attempt to improve with better t.