The Denver Broncos are set to sign former Minnesota Vikings QB Case Keenum when the new league year opens Wednesday, and 9News' Mike Klis reports it'll be a two-year, $36 million deal.
For John Elway, who has repeatedly swung for the fences at the QB position with varying results, the Keenum signing feels like a double into the gap and a smart, calculated stroke.
The Broncos were expected to be all in on Kirk Cousins, but that field has quickly narrowed to the Vikings, New York Jets and perhaps Arizona Cardinals. And Keenum's total deal, assuming Klis' numbers are accurate, will only narrowly exceed Cousins' 2018 salary alone. It also won't preclude Elway, nor force him into taking another big QB swing in the draft with the fifth overall pick if he so chooses.
Keenum gets a well-deserved payday on the heels of his eye-opening season in Minnesota. But he also gets a chance to remove any doubt that it was an aberration and potentially hit the market again at age 32, just as he's likely approaching the prime of his career.
Elway's forays into the QB market since winning the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning on his last leg have been disastrous. Although Osweiler failed miserably in Houston, Elway whiffed on Paxton Lynch, a high-profile trade up in Round One for a talented player who appears to lack the necessary intangibles.
Conversely, Keenum overcomes ordinary talent with terrific intangibles — basically a relatively proven version of what the Broncos undoubtedly hoped Trevor Siemian could become. And if Keenum's 2017 success turns out to be a byproduct of his ideal support with the Vikings that Denver currently lacks, the contract will have been a reflection of that possibility.
Of couse, reasonable contract or not, this could also be Elway's final chance to fix Denver's QB problem after two consecutive playoff misses. And by settling for Keenum rather than splurging for Cousins, Elway gives himself an extra plate appearance in April to change the narrative that a Hall of Fame quarterback can't solve the position as a general manager.