The Broncos could be a quarterback away from contention. That has been their reputation for the past few years, but their current roster makes that claim seem even more valid.
Denver boasts talent and/or potential at every position group. The least inspiring of those, however, might be QB. No NFL starter threw interceptions at a higher clip last year than Drew Lock (3.4%), who was unable to build on the promise he showed in a shortened rookie season. It's why the Broncos traded for Teddy Bridgewater and will have an open competition before the season.
It was a mild surprise Denver didn't add a rookie to its QB room during the draft -- Justin Fields and Mac Jones were both available when the Broncos were on the clock with the No. 9 pick. It would be a shock if new general manager George Paton & Co. were able to swing a deal for Aaron Rodgers.
Odds are Lock and Bridgewater will be battling it out in the Mile High City this summer. The latter, who joined the Broncos just two weeks ago, sees what most everyone else does in his new squad.
"It's a talented football team, and it has so many pieces," Bridgewater said, per the team site. "I'm just glad to be a part of what they're doing around here and what we're trying to build here. It's a great, unique opportunity for me to come in and compete and lead at the same time. I'm just grateful for this opportunity."
That encapsulates Bridgewater's attitude throughout his resilient, injury-plagued career. He just couldn't have expected this scenario a month ago when the Panthers traded for 23-year-old reclamation project Sam Darnold. Bridgewater will now be tasked with beating out the 24-year-old Lock.
The 28-year-old veteran is coming off a steady yet unspectacular season himself, only his second as a full-time starter. His 15 touchdown passes shed light on why he was exiled just one year into a three-year pact. But Bridgewater did produce career highs in passing yards (3,733), completion percentage (69.1) and yards per attempt (7.6). It was enough to catch the eyes of Paton and prompt coach Vic Fangio to declare practice reps will be split "50-50" in OTAs and training camp.
"When you watch him on tape, the game is really easy for him," Paton said. "He moves the team. He plays in rhythm. He makes the players around him better. We like the way he plays. He throws on time and the offense is in rhythm. That's what we liked when we watched the tape."
The Broncos' 2020 tape is also a lot more encouraging than their 5-11 record. That mark can change quite a bit should they get better play from their QB, whoever that happens to be.