How John Elway Can Use Case Keenum In 2019

Case Keenum
Denver Broncos Quarterback Case Keenum. Photo Credit: Keith Allison - Under Creative Commons License

After a less-than-stellar year for the Broncos,  quarterback Case Keenum’s future in the city of Denver seems to be rocky. With just one year left on Keenum’s current deal and no great options in free agency, Broncos general manager John Elway is coming to a crossroads. What should Elway do with his most expensive acquisition of 2018?

How John Elway Can Use Case Keenum In 2019

When considering Keenum’s future, the main question is whether he is the franchise quarterback for the next decade or merely a stop-gap measure until someone better comes along. If Elway were to see him as the guy, then he would be able to focus on building the pieces around him. However, if Elway doesn’t see him as the solution at quarterback, he’ll need to instead spend extra resources on fixing the position.

As it stands now, Keenum is in a unique position in that he could possibly be a piece that helps the Broncos win big or he could be someone that will hold down the fort while Denver looks for their next franchise quarterback.

If He’s Not The Future

While there is potential to make it work with Keenum under center, not many would fault Elway if he were to look for something more.

If Elway wants to move on from Keenum, there are only a few ways it could be done. The seemingly quickest way would be to trade up for the best option in this year’s draft, keeping Keenum on the roster as a mentor-figure. The Broncos could do it in a similar fashion to what the New York Jets have done with Sam Darnold and Josh McCown where the veteran immediately steps aside and gives advice from the sideline all season long.

Additionally, the Broncos could also follow the example of the Cleveland Browns where the veteran gets a chance to keep his job but once the season begins to go off the rails, the rookie would come in. Finally, the Broncos could follow the example set by their rivals in Kansas City where they would allow the rookie to sit behind the veteran for a full year while he learns. There are pros and cons to each path but no matter which one the Broncos follow, Keenum would not be on the roster in 2020.

However, there is a slower but more rational path. What if Elway doesn’t really see a future with any of the new quarterbacks coming out of college this year? If that were to be the case, 2020 would likely have better options, if for no other reason than the fact that Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will likely be coming to the NFL at this time. Assuming that Elway’s plan was to wait until 2020 to make a big splash, what should he do in the meantime?

If Elway knows that he isn’t looking to draft a quarterback this year, he could use 2019 to buff the pieces around Keenum and see what a refined team could do. If the Broncos do well, Elway could sign Keenum to a short extension during the season, trade him with his newly increased value, and use that profit to get a high pick in 2020’s draft in order to get in position to draft his guy.

Last But Not Least

There is a third option that is both economical and quick. In the upcoming draft, Elway could draft a cheap option late in the draft that could double as a franchise backup quarterback (backup quarterback Kevin Hogan should not be seen as a solution) and a shot at a possible face of the franchise. The Broncos could start Keenum at the beginning of the year and, should the team find themselves on the edge of falling off of the rails early in the season, the Broncos could start their cheap option (think Chad Kelly 2.0) as a last-ditch effort to spark the offense. If the Broncos were to successfully rebound, the team will have likely found a franchise quarterback at a great price. However, if the team were to fail to rebound, then the Broncos would still have a backup with some upside. Conversely, if the third rounder were to struggle then the Broncos could draft a new quarterback early in the first round in 2020. If this were to come to pass, the Broncos would be entering 2020 without Keenum and with two new quarterbacks full of potential. This is likely the best plan that Elway has because it would both give Keenum a chance to prove himself and a chance for a cheaper quarterback to prove himself before placing a massive bet on a first-rounder.