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With Von Miller deal done, Broncos turn eye to QB race

In the end, Broncos general manager John Elway found a way to keep Von Miller happy for years to come. So what's next?

With Denver's pass-rushing wonder now positioned as the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, it's time for the Broncos to focus on their most pressing issue: the quarterback position.

While Miller will keep Denver's defense at the top of the heap, it's entirely unclear whether Mark Sanchez, Trevor Siemian or rookie Paxton Lynch will be under center when the Broncos host the Carolina Panthers in Week 1.

As the first team since the 2001 Ravens forced to defend the Lombardi with a brand-new starting quarterback, the Broncos rest in a precarious position heading into September. Sanchez looms as a bland, veteran stopgap with a fondness for creating killer turnovers; Siemian is a mystery man who coaches believe has a "legitimate shot" to start; Lynch is a tantalizing but enigmatic rookie with prototypical size, enviable arm strength and a first-round pedigree.

Lynch also has the confidence of Elway, who made it clear in May that the rookie could play this season, saying: "We think he's going to be ready quicker than a lot of people think."

After coach Gary Kubiak flip-flopped between Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler last season -- doing so with outward confidence and deft timing -- he'll be challenged at the position again in 2016.

It's entirely possible that all three quarterbacks make starts this autumn, putting incredible pressure on Miller and the defense to double down on their heroics from a year ago.

Just look at how Elway spread the money around this offseason. Refusing to break the bank for Osweiler, the Broncos are choosing to pay Miller quarterback cash while hoping to get by with an intriguing but unpredictable -- and possibly combustible -- collection of passers.

Longtime Broncos fans can think back to 1999, when Denver -- the winner of back-to-back Super Bowls -- was forced to start Brian Griese at quarterback after Elway retired. The results were disastrous for a six-win team that finished last in the AFC West for the first time in nearly a decade.

Today's Broncos, though, still have Elway running the show. And whether or not you approve of his offseason decisions at the quarterback position, his wild success as an NFL executive is undeniable.

Given the circumstances, we're about to witness one of the more fascinating title defenses of this century. The Broncos won't be treated as royalty in a balanced and feisty division armed with four rough-and-tumble teams.

Miller deserves his pile of guaranteed money, but nothing is guaranteed for his Broncos in 2016. If Denver can get back to the playoffs, Elway and Kubiak will deserve every bit of praise they earn along the way.

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