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Woody Paige: Broncos QB situation could have been even more of a jumbled mess

June 4, 2017 Updated: June 4, 2017 at 9:18 pm
Caption +
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in the final seconds of Denver's 24-10 win over the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 Sunday, February 7, 2016 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

WIPR or WIBR: What would be the Broncos' curious competition circumstances at quarterback now?

What if Peyton returned last season?

But, Manning wasn't coming back for five reasons: (1) He appropriately had finished his career as Super Bowl champion; (2) He crossed the threshold of 40; (3) The recovery from injuries he suffered in 2014 and 2015 took longer and were more difficult; (4) The Broncos had no desire to pay or play Peyton for another season and intended to shift his salary to Brock Osweiler; (5) He didn't want to play one more year in another city, and planned to keep his family in Denver.

What if Peyton returned, would the Broncos have reached the postseason and challenged for another Super Bowl? Yes and no. The Broncos would have won at least 10 games, but not the AFC West, and barely beat the Dolphins for the final wild card spot, but they wouldn't have won on the road in the playoffs. They certainly did (and do) miss Peyton's leadership and mental game, despite his declining physical talent level.

What if Brock re-signed in 2016?

Osweiler wasn't coming back for four reasons: (1) He was insulted when Gary Kubiak replaced him with Manning in the second half of the last regular season game and didn't start him in the postseason, and he didn't get a chance at winning the Super Bowl; (2) Brock felt disrespected when Elway initially proposed a contract of three years for $45 million; (3) Osweiler didn't want to follow and wallow in the legacy of Manning (and Elway); (4) He felt loved and coveted when the Texas offered four years, $72 million $37 in guaranteed money. That was a short-lived reaction.

What if Brock had returned, would the Broncos have made the postseason and contended for the Super Bowl? No and no. The Broncos probably would have won nine games. Osweiler had an 8-6 record with the Texans. Turns out, the quarterback Osweiler isn't as skilled as Elway believed when Bronco Brock was drafted in 2012.

Browns coach Hue Jackson, who currently has Brock in OTAs, said the past week he has been "pleasantly surprised." But the Browns won't be so pleased if they have to pay Osweiler $18 million this season as a backup. Os will be forced to surprise another team before the season.

Yet, if Brock had decided to stick around (and receive $30 million in fail-safe cash), the Broncos' recent history would be revised significantly.

Most assuredly, Elway wouldn't have toyed with the idea of bringing in Colin Kaepernick, or pondered several other quarterbacks.

Mark Sanchez wouldn't have come to town for a brief, unproductive excursion.

The Broncos' starting quarterback in '16 would have been Brock, and Trevor Siemian, drafted the year before, would have served, at least for a while, as his backup. Siemian was Kubiak's favorite student. Yet, knowing how Elway collects quarterbacks like stamps and baseball cards, he would have selected another QB in the '16 draft.

However, not Paxton Lynch by trading up in the first round.

It must be remembered that the other quarterback who intrigued Elway was Dak Prescott. Would the Broncos have picked Prescott instead of safety Justin Simmons at 98th?

Then, would Lynch have landed in the first round with the Texans, who were interested, or the Cowboys, who drooled over him?

And who would have the Broncos have drafted with the last pick in the first round?

Oh, Henry!

They could have chosen tight end Hunter Henry, who ended up with the Chargers (and then head coach Mike McCoy) in the 35th slot, or running back Derrick Henry (taken 45th by the Titans). Hunter and Derrick each had outstanding rookie seasons. (Hunter caught seven red-zone touchdowns.)

Even if Brock had re-signed, all the conversations in June of this year, nevertheless, would be about quarterback.

Osweiler, Siemian and Prescott might be competing for No. 1 rather than Tre-Pax. Just imagine the hot takes and summer in the city.

And there would be no Chad Kelly (whose cast on his business wrist will be removed Monday).

He actually may be No. 1 someday.

O Romo, Romo, wherefore art thou, Romo?

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