Late last night, the Denver Broncos made the first move in this offseason’s quarterback race, snatching former Vikings quarterback Case Keenum off the market. The deal, which can’t become official until free agency opens tomorrow, was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and then very little information followed.
Factors such as how long Keenum’s contract is, how much money it’s worth, and how much of that money is guaranteed still aren’t known. The Denver Post reports that Keenum’s deal is expected to be a short-term one, with a yearly salary approaching $20 million. The contract recently signed by Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles—three years, $54 million, $26.5 million guaranteed—provides a useful road map.
The fact that no numbers from Keenum’s contract have leaked yet—agents are always in a hurry to get the dollar amount out there when they think they’ve scored a huge deal for their client—suggests that Keenum is indeed set up to make Bortles money rather than Kirk Cousins money. If that turns out to be the case, then the Broncos should be feeling pretty good about the signing.
If Keenum continues to play like the guy he was last season, in which he threw 22 touchdowns and led the Vikings to a playoff victory, then he’ll be a decent bargain. And if he goes right back to being the guy who played like ass for the Rams and Texans, they likely won’t be on the hook for a franchise-crippling amount of dead money.
The best-case scenario for both parties that Keenum plays solidly for the next two to three seasons and gets the Broncos back into the playoffs while their defense is still fearsome. By the end of Keenum’s contract, the Broncos, who have the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft, may have a shiny new franchise quarterback ready to step in and take over.
There are plenty of ways for such a plan to go terribly wrong, and it may prove an even riskier option than throwing piles of money at Kirk Cousins and relying on him to be the savior. But with the quarterback market being what it is, every move is going to look like a gamble.