By Zack Kelberman
DENVER (247 SPORTS) – Case Keenum is going nowhere, claims the Worldwide Leader.
In projecting the 2019 starting quarterbacks for 10 NFL teams, ESPN reached a consensus on Keenum to remain under center with the Denver Broncos.
Three reporters (Mike Sando, Field Yates and Dan Graziano) each made the case — no pun intended — for Keenum.
Sando: The Broncos need to line up their future at the position, so I understand the feeling they could draft a quarterback in the first round. But with Keenum having $7 million in guaranteed salary for 2019, he could be part of the equation as well — especially if Denver finishes in the 7-9 or 8-8 range, which is definitely possible when taking into account upcoming games against the 49ers, Browns and Raiders. The Broncos also get a home game against the Chargers, whom they already defeated.
Yates: Opportunity cost is essential to consider for quarterbacks, so let’s assess what Denver has: With a draft pick likely to be in the middle of the first round, finding a surefire quarterback would require trading up. Do John Elway & Co. really want to use those assets to move up? Keenum has been average this season, and while he doesn’t profile as the long-term answer, he’s good enough for Denver to either consider a quarterback prospect to develop behind him — maybe even in Round 2 — or wait a year to go shopping again.
Graziano: Unlike the Jaguars, who are working with years of evidence that they’re never going to get any more from Bortles than what they’re getting, the Broncos could absolutely talk themselves into another year of Keenum at his current price. Factor in their thirst for stability at the position after changing starters three times last season and twice the year before, and they might even be leaning that way — even if they draft a QB in the first round to take over when Keenum’s time there is up.
With no upside backup currently on the roster, nor a draft prospect worth mortgaging the future for, Keenum could return by default to play out the final year of his contract. That is, unless they trade for a QB or invest a first-round pick in someone like Justin Herbert (if he declares).
Keenum is due to count $21 million against the salary cap in 2019 — 11.1 percent of the club’s total cap allotment. Releasing him prior to June 1 would clear $11 million but leave behind $10 million in dead money, per OverTheCap.com.
After tossing an interception in each of his first eight weeks, Keenum has settled down into a solid game manager. He’s thrown for 2,953 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 INTs, and hasn’t turned the ball over amid the 6-6 Broncos’ three-game winning streak.