It started innocently enough.  Peyton Manning had just walked away from the game and Denver was contemplating who should be the heir apparent.  Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch?

I suggested a trade for, then 35-year-old, Phillip Rivers.

Before the free-agent signing of Case Keenum and the subsequential drafting of Bradley Chubb, I suggested that Denver should take quarterback Josh Allen, or possibly trade down and select Lamar Jackson.

And now Drew Lock sits at the top of the depth chart with career stats of 23 TDs and 18 INTs, and a lifetime record of 8-10.  If this year’s playoffs have taught us anything, it is that if you don’t have a franchise quarterback like a Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, or Pat Mahomes, you have nothing at all.

Here are this year’s suggestions of who can fill our need for a franchise quarterback, and my wish list of one to ten.

  • Deshaun Watson – If we are going to start with a wish list, we might as well wish big. Rumors in Houston indicate that Watson is unhappy with the

    organization as could demand a trade.  The odds of Denver picking up the 25-year-old franchise quarterback, who threw for 33 TDs with only 7 INTs, are not good.  But if NFL players like Jalen Ramsey, Jamal Adams, and Antonio Brown can force moves, so can Watson.  The cost of three first-round picks or maybe a Von Miller would be expensive, but the Broncos would finally be set at quarterback for the foreseeable future.

  • Matthew Stafford – With Detroit owning the seventh pick in the 2021 NFL draft, the scenario that brings Stafford to Denver is a little more realistic. If the New York Jets decided not to select a quarterback with the second pick, or Detroit trades up, the Lions could select Ohio State’s Justin Fields and move on from the 32-year-old Stafford.  Stafford’s age, durability, and high salary could be a concern to the Broncos, but his 26 TDs and 4,000 yards would secure the QB spot for the next five years.

  • Trevor Lawrence – Jacksonville is never going to let this happen, but acquiring Trevor Lawrence simply takes the ability for Denver to move from the ninth pick in the draft, to the first, and every team has its price. Four first-round draft picks? Five? Six? It is hard to imagine a price too great considering that Denver has had nine different starting quarterbacks since winning the Super Bowl back in 2015-16.
  • Justin Fields – Assuming Jacksonville takes Lawrence and the Jets stick with Sam Darnold, it is plausible that Denver could move up, or even stay at number nine and end up with the second-best quarterback in the draft. Fields is 6’3, has great speed, and has thrown 66 TDs in his college career with only 9 INTs.  If John Elway promises to leave all the evaluations to the new general manager, and gets the okay on Fields, count me in.
  • Carson Wentz – Technically, the disgruntled Wentz makes about $28 million-a-year, which is a little pricey for a benched quarterback that threw almost as many INTs (15) than TDs (16). But if the Philadelphia Eagles move forward with Jalen Hurts, they have no choice but to eat most of the contract themselves.  Still only 28-years-old, Wentz could return to form and be the answer to Denver’s problems.
  • Sam DarnoldIf the Jets move on from Darnold, the Broncos should be able to get the former third-overall pick for pennies on the dollar. Darnold is only 23, scouted well with the Broncos previously, and stats shouldn’t count when you play for New York.  Best case scenario is a high draft pick living up to his potential.  Worst-case scenario is some quarterback competition for Drew Lock, that isn’t Jeff Driskel.
  • Zach Wilson – The Junior from BYU is projected to be the third quarterback selected in the 2021 NFL draft, and finished the season with 32 TDs with only 3 INTs. Wilson is built in the mold of the new breed of quarterback with his scrambling ability, awkward arm angles, and pinpoint accuracy.  How about a concept of building a team around the talents of your quarterback, rather than trying to fit a quarterback into a system that doesn’t seem to be working.
  • Trey Lance – Lance went to North Dakota State and opted out soon after the pandemic began. But in 2019, Lance threw for 28 TDs and 0 INT, while rushing for 1,100 yards. At 6’4, Lance has all the tools to be the next difference-maker in the NFL.  The question is whether the Broncos have the team functional enough to develop his skill set.
  • Jameis Winston – Before you start laughing, hear me out. The former first-overall pick is only 27-years-old and threw for over 5,000 yards and 33 TDs when he was a starter back in 2019.  Winston may have lost his job after throwing 30 interceptions that same season, but everyone loses their starting job when that team signs Tom Brady.  Finally, Winston’s salary was listed at $1.1 million last year as a backup to Drew Brees in New Orleans.  Denver’s long snapper makes more than that.
  • Drew Lock – Most general managers would prefer making a splash with a new organization but giving Lock another year could be the plan. Shore up the offensive line via free agency, get back a Courtland Sutton, draft a little help, and give Lock another year with the playbook to develop.  And if the team ends up at 5-11 again…


…I’ll have another ten quarterback suggestions next year.


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Alan Tapley is an educator, author, and blogger who has lived just outside of Boulder for the last twenty years.  His published work includes two novels, two children’s books, a series of cartoons in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, and multiple sports related articles. His love for family and the state of Colorado is only matched by one thing, his passion for sports.  The first baseball game he ever attended was at Wrigley Field, before there were lights.  At the final Bronco game at the old Mile High, he allegedly cut out a piece of his seat in the South stands.  But regardless of being here for the Avalanche’s last Stanley Cup, the Rockies only World Series appearance, and all the Broncos’ Super Bowl Victories, his wife never fails to remind him that he wasn’t at the University of Colorado in 1990, like she was.  The year the Buffs football team won the National Championship