Brady to the Broncos … more realistic than you think | VailDaily.com

Brady to the Broncos … more realistic than you think

Try it on for size, people

Come on, people. It's not as outrageous as you might think. Just imagine No. 12 in Broncos' orange.
Bill Sikes | Associated Press

So Drew Lock is the starting quarterback after the Denver Broncos won four of their last five with the rookie under center.

He’s a Lock, so to say.

You’re sure about that?

We’ve said over and over in this space that you draft a quarterback, and don’t get one via free agency.

The eras that were Case Keenum and Joe Flacco attest to that.

But …

After wild card weekend, this year may be the exception to the rule. There are big names out there — Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Eli Manning and Dak Prescott.

OK, we’ll let you recover from your coffee spit take over Rivers in a Broncos uniform or general manager John Elway going to the Manning well again. (We’re just kidding on these two.)

But think about it, the only time GM John has really found a quarterback was taking one off the scrap heap of free-agency — Peyton Manning — and, in the process, replacing a young, popular SEC quarterback.

Yes, Lock has a much more viable future in the NFL than Tim Tebow, but the clock is ticking in Denver, even for Elway. Since winning Super Bowl 50, the Broncos are 27-37. That’s 9-7, 5-11, 6-10, 7-9, four seasons of no playoffs, uninspiring head coaches and a quarterback carousel.

If the team’s president, Joe Ellis, ever wakes up or the daughters of former owner Pat Bowlen resolve their issues, someone in charge will realize that Elway is just living on his reputation as No. 7 and that when next season starts, it will have been five years since the team has been relevant.

Goodbye, Joe

We’re warning you ahead of time to put down your beverage to avoid spit take No. 2 of this column.

Flacco was the fifth-highest-paid player in the NFL this season at $18.5 million, according to pro-football-reference.com.

Ouch.

Perhaps, this is one of many reasons Elway should be worried about his job status. Do you all feel the Broncos got 18.5 big ones out of Flacco? We’ll call that a rhetorical question.

The Broncos owe him $23 million next season if he plays and $13 million if he doesn’t. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Joe. (I aspire to be paid $13 million to go away.)

According to sportrac.com, the Broncos have $60 million of cap space with Flacco getting $23M, and they’re up to $70M without him. (Addition by subtraction, people.)

Yes, money needs to be spent to resign Derek Wolfe in a reasonable fashion, Chris Harris Jr., and or a suitable replacement. Broncos fans also probably want to see the likes of running-back Phillip Lindsay and Courtland Sutton get extended, but there’s still a lot of flexibility in that $70 million.

Enter No. 12

As nice as Lock looked in his five starts, let’s remember that the Broncos were 3-8 and going nowhere when he started playing. We still don’t know about him when it actually counts.

Meanwhile, you’ve got proven winners in Brady and Brees. I’d go with Tom over Drew since No. 12 has played outdoors in the weather.

Both Bill Belichick and Brady want to show they can win without each other. The Pats will offer Brady one, but not two years, so Tom hits the road. (For the record, the Broncos offer Brady two years, and eat the second year, when Lock resumes starting.)

The Broncos have the basics of an offense with Sutton, Lindsay, Royce Freeman, and Noah Fant. First off, all that’s a lot more than Brady had in New England. Then, think about Brady turning one of them into a stud, as he’s done so many times with the Patriots.

Dare to dream: The Broncos get rid of Garett Bowles. (OK, off-topic, but again, addition by subtraction.) On a serious note, Lock spends a year shadowing Brady, learning how to be a QB. Is there a better tutor in the world?

There’s also the fact that the AFC isn‘t very deep. There are the Ravens and the Chiefs and …? New England drops a rung without Brady. The Steelers with Roethlisberger and an arm injury? The Browns? (Could we please have some more Baker Mayfield commercials?) The Texans and the Titans? The Broncos beat the Titans with Flacco and dope-slapped the Texans with Lock in his second start.

Brady wants to stay in the AFC.  He wants to give the international No. 1 sign to the Patriots. The Broncos play the Patriots on the road next year for a triumphal homecoming that will inevitably be in prime time.

It’s not so much of a Lock anymore.