The Denver Broncos will be linked to every quarterback under the sun this off-season. While Team Drew Lock is still under a hugely favorable contract for the next two years, it seems the 25-year-old didn’t show enough on tape last season, despite the fact that new GM George Paton has obviously improved. ‘All in all, to him as an understood starter for the 2021 season.
This doesn’t mean Lock won’t start for the Broncos in 2021, and it doesn’t mean he can’t become a franchise-caliber quarterback for the organization at some point. As Broncos insider Mike Klis recently reported how aggressively Paton and the Broncos are chasing Matthew Stafford and how interested the team (along with half the league) will be when the Houston Texans provide Deshaun Watson. There is no getting around it: The decision makers in the front office are not happy with Lock, Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien as quarterback space for the next season.
Given the Broncos’ uncertainty at the quarterback, it makes sense that the Las Vegas bettors would provide the team with some of the best chances of landing some of these well-known veteran QBs. With so many teams in need of callers, the game of musical chairs, which is quarterback positions, is going to be one of the most intriguing storylines as 2021 may spawn a carousel that has never been seen before.
If you can think of a free agent or quarterback likely to be traded, the Broncos are likely linked with attracting that player. Andy Dalton, Cam Newton, Mitchell Trubisky, Jacoby Brissett, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor or Jameis Winston through the free agency. In the trading market, there are opportunities like Alex Smith, Marcus Mariota, Nick Foles, and Gardner Minshew – not to mention the Watson mentioned above, so no doubt Paton will be adding someone to the quarterback room
One quarterback not yet connected to the Broncos and other teams is that of Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. After a year in which Roethlisberger’s physical prowess seems to be waning, it seems possible the Steelers will have to make the tough decision and release the future Hall of Famer due to his game and a lowered salary cap for 2021.
Gregg Rosenthall of NFL.com has figured out why Big Ben is the most surprising but realistic cut candidate in the entire AFC this off-season:
Owner Art Rooney II made it clear back in January that the Steelers were ready to release Big Ben if necessary. The teams do not urge players to cut their salaries – let alone speak about them publicly – unless they are willing to move on if the negotiations fail. Roethlisberger has also made it publicly clear that he is ready to take a pay cut, but General Manager Kevin Colbert’s noncommittal words recently suggested that this may not be enough.
Roethlisberger’s buddy Maurkice Pouncey has retired. The Steelers let go of offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, who was close to Roethlisberger. JuJu Smith-Schuster could be next. It’s possible that Steelers Brass will see this off-season as the appropriate time to rebuild the machine, especially after the team’s 1-4 graduation for the 2020 campaign. Cutting Ben, while painful, would cost $ 19 million versus the save this year’s upper limit. This is possibly the cleanest way to massage the difficult situation of the salary cap, which is currently estimated to be $ 30 million above the cap.
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Would the Broncos be interested in Roethlisberger? Given the way the team is connected to each QB, from obvious talent who would oust Lock as a starter, to players who groan with displeasure at reading rumors about their affiliated team, it seems inevitably that the Steelers will be published Roethlisberger, a discussion in Denver will at least take place.
Would Big Ben make sense in Denver?
Why should Roethlisberger make sense? When Denver honestly thinks about non-needle moving quarterbacks like Dalton, Foles, and Taylor, Big Ben’s play on the field can’t be worse than these options, right?
Roethlisberger would come with a high pedigree, can play with the shotgun in a scheme that emphasizes 11 staff members (Hello, Pat Shurmur), and can provide a solidifying presence on the offensive to a veteran. It’s hard to imagine that Fangio wouldn’t breathe a sigh of relief if he didn’t have to worry so much about the offense because he had Roethlisberger in focus so that Vic Fangio could better distribute his energy on his bread and butter. the defensive side of the ball.
This would certainly not ring bells and people dancing in the streets of Denver. Roethlisberger has had a fair share of off-the-field problems throughout his professional career. Given his game over the last few seasons, it seems like fatherhood is either here or at least on the doorstep of Roethlisberger’s game. Big Ben’s arm is not the same and his range of motion continues to deteriorate.
Roethlisberger’s match against Denver doesn’t go well with what the local media has brought out this off-season. The narrative currently goes that if the Broncos couldn’t get an obvious franchise quarterback for differentiators, they would be looking for a veteran to compete with Lock for the 2021 starting gig.
That probably wouldn’t be the case if Denver Roethlisberger signed. If Denver were to chase Big Ben, he would likely have to be guaranteed that he would be the starter in Week 1.
However, such a promise would not be a long-term commitment. If Big Ben had fought and showed signs of further decline, like Peyton Manning in 2015 or Drew Brees this year, the Broncos would likely return to Lock, who hopefully would have continued to grow during his time behind Roethlisberger, but this is undoubtedly something unlike what many are currently portraying in their vision of a quarterback camp battle with Lock versus a veteran.
Would Denver be ready for that? Is Roethlisberger the caliber of quarterback at this point, where he would be an obvious improvement over Lock, who still has room to grow and improve, compared to the declining skills of the soon-to-be 39-year-old veteran? That is what decision makers in Dove Valley have to decide.
While some will suggest that Roethlisberger is likely to want to move on to a more obvious competitor in order to end his career, the relevant question should be, what team in this category is looking for a quarterback anyway?
The teams currently in the quarterback market are Jaguars, Jets, Eagles, Panthers, 49ers, Patriots, Bears, Washington, and Saints. Some of these teams will most likely win one of the ‘Big Four’ quarterbacks in the NFL draft, this is just not a list of competing teams.
The only true contender among them are the Saints, who are in such a salary cap that they may not be able to do much of anything freely this off-season. The Broncos are perhaps the most promising landing spot, considering the offensive supporting cast are full of talent.
It is worth asking, however; Would the Broncos even want Roethlisberger at this point? Given Bronco’s O-Line coach Mike Munchak’s longstanding collaboration with the Steelers and Big Ben, there’s at least one connection that could give Denver some insight into whether or not Roethlisberger would be worth pursuing as a short-term stop-gap option .
Chances are the Steelers will work something out to keep Roethlisberger, or the last remaining quarterback from the 2004 draft may finish him off. The Steelers appear poised to partner with Mason Rudolph for a year, which means Roethlisberger may end his career outside of Steel City.
Roethlisberger may not move the needle much for fans these days as his game has been in decline lately. Aside from the Broncos getting a Watson, Russell Wilson, or Dak Prescott, or drawing one from Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, or Trey Lance, none of these quarterbacks are going to do much to help move the needle.
That’s just the reality of where the Broncos are at the quarterback position. Paton will continue to explore all avenues at his disposal and if Roethlisberger and the Steelers split up make no mistake, he will be discussed as a possible option.
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