Why Case Keenum Is A Lock To Start in 2019

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

Broncos quarterback Case Keenum began the 2018 season on shaky footing but has settled in during the second half, throwing six touchdowns and one interception in his last four games including no interceptions in his last four games. While he has steadied the ship over the last handful of games, he has had a less than ideal season overall. Even with his strong performances over the last five weeks, he has only thrown a total of 14 touchdowns to 10 interceptions this season, three more touchdowns than interceptions. In spite of his rough performance at a macro level, Keenum will likely be the unchallenged starter in 2019 for several reasons.

Weak Competition

Compared to last year, this year’s draft pool for quarterbacks is not very deep and not very exciting, especially considering how far the Broncos will likely have to trade up to acquire one of the premier talents. Even at fifth overall last year, the Broncos missed out two top prospects at the position. Considering that the Broncos would have to trade up about 10 spots or likely more to get a decent quarterback prospect, it is even more unlikely that a challenger for Keenum would come from the draft.

Additionally, the quarterback free agent market is less than ideal and there are no realistically attainable prospects that would be an obvious upgrade over Keenum.

John Elway Thinks He Can Win With Keenum

While the market and draft are lined up for Keenum to remain the starter in 2019, the biggest reason for Keenum’s job security is general manager John Elway. Elway thought he could win with Case Keenum when he signed him in the offseason and he has seen the Broncos win with him in big games. Keenum’s Broncos defeated the Los Angeles Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers while both teams were riding six-game win streaks and came within a missed field goal of beating the Houston Texans while they were on a five-game win streak. All three of those teams are expected to make the playoffs.

It is very likely that Elway will take this route because he won Super Bowl 50 with one of the best defenses in recent history and got blown out in Super Bowl 48 two years prior with the best offense in NFL history.

Not Out Of The Woods Yet

The only way that Keenum does not remain the unimpeded starter in 2019 would be if the Broncos were to implode as a result of him. Meaning, Elway would only have to think twice about keeping him if he were to throw interceptions or fumble away multiple wins during the remaining schedule. However, if he were to play at even 65 percent of the level that he has over the last month, Elway will almost certainly stay the course for next year.

That being said, if Keenum were to implode in a contract year next year, Elway would find himself with a loaded roster and wanting a new quarterback. Plenty of teams have been in similar positions within the last decade: the Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans, and Kansas City Chiefs among others. Like those teams then, the Broncos are now ascending. The real question is whether Keenum will be on the ride in 2020.