Now that Peyton Manning has retired and Brock Osweiler has absconded to Houston with $72 million lining his pockets, the pressure is on general manager John Elway to return the position to respectability in 2016.
While Osweiler's decision may have sent shockwaves through the NFL, it did not come as a surprise at Broncos headquarters. As of last week, NFL Media's Jeff Darlington reported Wednesday, Elway had already reached the conclusion that Osweiler did not want to be in Denver.
- Remaining free agents
- NFC free agency grades
- AFC free agency grades
- Free agency winners and losers
- Seven riskiest free-agent signings
- Robert Griffin III signs with Cleveland Browns
- Wesseling: Which franchises are on the rise?
- Collateral damage: Players hurt by free agency
- Collateral benefits: Players aided by free agency
1. Colin Kaepernick, 49ers: NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport has reported that Kaepernick would be the fallback option in the event of Osweiler's departure. The Broncos nearly drafted Kaepernick in 2011, per Rapoport, and Elway is close with 49ers general manager Trent Baalke.
Kaepernick's representatives have requested permission to seek a trade out of San Francisco.
2. Robert Griffin III, free agent: Now that he has been released by the Redskins, Griffin is "on the radar" in Denver, per Rapoport. It's hard to imagine RGIII receiving glowing reviews from former Washington coach Mike Shanahan, who has strong ties to Elway as well as Broncos coach Gary Kubiak.
On the other hand, Griffin's skillset was once viewed as a perfect match for Shanahan's boot-action offense, which is awfully similar to Kubiak's.
3. Mike Glennon, Buccaneers: Rapoport cited Glennon as a name to watch, but cautioned that it would take a big offer to pry him away from the Buccaneers. Although Glennon is entering the final year of his rookie contract, general manager Jason Licht recently insisted, "I'm not going to give Mike Glennon up, I'll just tell you that."
That sounds like a man unwilling to deal his strong-armed quarterback insurance for less than a premium in draft-pick compensation.
4. Ryan Fitzpatrick, free agent: The assumption all along has been that Fitzpatrick will re-sign with the Jets on the heels of a career year under Chan Gailey, but now he finds himself all alone as the most experienced and valuable quarterback on the market. Would the Broncos considering signing the semi-reliable Fitzpatrick and importing a high-risk/high-upside gamble such as Kaepernick or Griffin?
5. Case Keenum, Rams: A restricted free agent, Keenum was tendered at the first-round level by St. Louis. Even if he's a Kubiak favorite from their time together in Houston, that's a prohibitive price to pay for a career backup with size and arm strength limitations.
6. Matt Moore, free agent: Moore was once viewed as a high-end backup bordering on low-end starter, but he has thrown just 30 passes in the past four seasons. It's telling that the Dolphins opted to move on from the 31-year-old as their No. 2 quarterback this year.
McCarron held his own against Denver's defense late last season, but the Bengals have even less incentive to deal him than the Bucs do with Glennon. He's under contract at a cheap rate for two more seasons.
Will Hoyer find himself on the market after the Texans landed Osweiler?