INDIANAPOLIS — Just when Vance Joseph appeared to close the door on bringing in a veteran quarterback such as Tony Romo to follow in Peyton Manning's footsteps in Denver, John Elway cracked it back open.
The Broncos' new coach said Wednesday at the NFL scouting combine that he likes his two young QBs, Trevor Siemian, who's recuperating from (non-throwing) shoulder surgery, and Paxton Lynch, who's recovering from a disappointing rookie season.
So does his boss, but Elway later said he would never say never.
"We'll kick the tires on everything and do our homework on everything and then make the best decision for what's right for the Broncos," Elway said.
He acknowledged he'd have to weigh the potential pitfalls such a move might present.
"How does it affect those young guys and how does it affect their reps, and are they still going to continue to get better, or (will it) impede their growth if we were to do that?" Elway said. "Those are all things that go into consideration to think about whether we bring in a veteran guy."
Many have speculated the oft-injured Romo , supplanted by Dak Prescott in Dallas, will land in Denver much like Manning did in 2012 for his comeback.
Joseph isn't allowed to talk specifically about players on other teams, but he reaffirmed the Broncos' intentions to stick with their young QBs, who count a combined $2 million against next year's $167 million cap.
"I think having a veteran quarterback who's won games in the past, it brings excitement to your locker room and your city. That being said, we've got two young guys that played last year that won nine games combined — and probably should have won more," Joseph said.
"So, moving forward, we're satisfied with those two young kids, and fixing the offensive line and running the football better and protecting the passer better is a must to help those two young guys play better."
Siemian had surgery on his left shoulder Jan. 3 after playing three months with what's been described as a grade-5 A.C. joint sprain, which he suffered in Week 4, forcing him to miss 1½ games. He also missed a game with a sprained foot.
The severity of his shoulder injury is usually seen in car crashes, not on football fields, and the recovery can take up to half a year.
Joseph said he trusts Siemian will be ready for non-contact OTAs next month — the four-month mark — but noted this spring is all about both QBs learning Mike McCoy's system before competing in earnest for the starting job in training camp.
Siemian went 8-6 and threw for 3,400 yards with 18 TDs and 10 interceptions, statistics all the more impressive, Joseph said, when you consider he played most of the season with a severely damaged shoulder.
"Watching Trevor last year, I was really impressed. Again, he's a winner. He played with a horrific shoulder injury that most guys wouldn't play with," Joseph said.
Lynch went 1-1 last year and showed he was far from polished as he adjusts from the spread offense he ran at Memphis to the pro-style system and its requisite footwork, quick reads and intricate playbook.
Joseph demurred when asked if that raw-but-talented Lynch is ready to supplant the savvy-and-strong Siemian.
"Obviously, he's got great skills. He's a tall man with a big arm. Is he ready? That's a tough question," Joseph said. "... It's going to be an open competition and whoever wins the job, that's who's going to play. That's as fair as it can be."
Elway chose Siemian in the seventh round in 2015 and moved up to select Lynch with the 26th overall pick in the first round last year. But he said he'd be OK with Siemian winning the job again in 2017 if that's the way it works out.
"Well, yeah. If Paxton's not ready to go, then I don't want him to go," Elway said. "The key thing is, we drafted Paxton to come in and compete for a job. Trevor did a good job last year. But we're looking for a guy that we can hang our hat on for a long, long time. The last thing we want to do — whether it be Paxton or anyone else — is put them in before they're ready."
Joseph said McCoy has a tough task in preparing for two different styles of quarterback.
"The problem with Paxton and Trevor, they're so different," Joseph said. "Paxton's a tall, big-armed guy, athletic guy. Trevor is fundamentally sound, great footwork, great with the ball. He can really spin the ball as far as throwing it. So, they're different. So, I think Mike's challenge is finding an offense that can fit both guys so they can compete equally."
Notes: Joseph said he senses an excitement and a hunger in his conversations with players since his hiring in January: "Nine wins last year felt like a losing season in Denver," Joseph said. ... Elway is entering the final year of his contract but said he expects smooth negotiations and to get a deal done soon.