By Zack Kelberman
DENVER (247 SPORTS) – Case Keenum hopes to embody “DB4L” — Denver Broncos For Life.
The Broncos’ quarterback enters the final game of his first season in Denver with his sights set on the big picture. Inconsistent all year, he doesn’t feel the need to prove himself in Sunday’s closeout contest against the Chargers, because he’s not going anywhere.
Ever, if he had his druthers.
“I don’t look at it that way,” Keenum said Wednesday. “I want to play here the rest of my career. I look at it as I have to do my absolute best here every week. It’s not just this week, it’s not like I’m going to try to turn it on. I’ve done my best that I’ve possibly can every week. I’ve played as hard as I possibly can. Have I done my best? In my own mind, I could’ve done better. I should have. And you can say ‘Could of, should of, would of.’ But I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m going to continue to grind. That’s who I am, and we’ll talk about all of that at the end of the year.”
Signed to a two-year, $36 million contract this offseason, Keenum was supposed to capitalize on his career campaign with the Minnesota Vikings. He was supposed to step in and massively upgrade the sport’s most important position, playing himself into a new deal in 2020. He was supposed to be the no-doubt-about-it franchise field general.
Instead of Vikings Keenum, the Broncos got Texans Keenum and Rams Keenum, the journeyman who’d been written off as an NFL starter. Who some consider nothing more than a backup. He’s barely an improvement on Trevor Siemian, having thrown just 17 touchdowns compared to 14 interceptions. He’s tossed a pick in 11 of 16 games to this point and also fumbled nine times. Denver’s offense ranks 19th in passing, 20th in yards and 22nd in points.
It took them until the Week 9 bye to finally hit their stride. By then, it was too little, too late, however, as the club had fallen behind the postseason eight-ball.
“Early in the year, there may have been some red zone opportunities that we missed,” Keenum explained. “Then just not moving the ball in the first half. It’s a lot of different things. You just try to keep growing and try to keep scoring. Try to keep creating explosive plays, scoring opportunities. There’s a lot of things. This week, focusing not on the whole thing, but this week we’ve got to score points. This is a very talented offense and we’ve got to stay on the field. Put together some drives, because that’s going to be really key, to score more than 19 points. We need to put some more points on the board.”
Realistically, the Broncos likely are stuck with the 31-year-old (in February) for 2019. He carries a $21 million salary cap number; his release would result in a $10 million dead money charge while clearing $11 million off the books. He’s due $18 million in base salary, $7 million of which is guaranteed.
To move on from Keenum means the Broncos have a successor in mind. Kevin Hogan and Garrett Grayson ain’t it, chief. The upcoming free-agent QB class, led by Nick Foles, is prohibitive, and the draft class is comically weak, unless you count Drew Lock as a first-round talent.
Whether under center or holding a clipboard, Keenum should return to the Mile High City. But he shouldn’t get too comfortable beyond the next 12 months.