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Woody Paige: Denver Broncos got their guy, who's next?

March 17, 2018 Updated: March 19, 2018 at 2:56 pm
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Case Keenum, center, smiles as he holds up his new jersey as John Elway, left, general manager of the Denver Broncos, and head coach Vance Joseph look on during a news conference to introduce Keenum as the new starting quarterback of the team at the organization's headquarters Friday, March 16, 2018, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

The Broncos, Boss John Elway said, "got our guy.''

Nevertheless, the Broncos need more guys to become relevant again.

Casey Austin Keenum is the "new starting quarterback'' of the Broncos, Elway announced on Friday in a cramped room at The Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse.

C.K. will become the Broncos' 47th starting quarterback in the franchise's 59th season. Elway was the starter in 16 years. The rest averaged less than one season.

It's not Case closed for the Broncos, though. Keenum is signed for just two seasons, but he did say he hopes to finish his career in Denver. Conspicuously, few have. In the Broncos' building there are three - Elway, Gary Kubiak and Bill Musgrave (one start in 1996). Peyton Manning, who lives in Cherry Hills, retired from the Broncos after the Super Bowl, and Jake Plummer, a Boulder resident, quit prematurely and in anger.

Keenum made $7.157 million his first six years in the NFL, according to spotrac.com. He could receive more than five times that amount in the next two seasons. Of his $36 million contract, $25 mil is guaranteed. Case received a $6 million signing bonus spread over two years and will get a $4 million roster bonus. He will make $8 million in base salary in 2018 and $18 million next season.

In 2020, Keenum will be an unrestricted free agent.

In 2017, the Broncos paid $3,920,966 to four quarterbacks. Trevor Siemian (traded) and Brock Osweiler (free agent) won't return, and, the other two - Paxton Lynch and Chad Kelly - may.

That decision will be determined by what the Broncos do, or don't do, about a quarterback in the draft. They can pick one at No. 5 overall, or later, or Elway can stick with who he's got.

There will be another quarterback competition in training camp - for the backup job.

I suspect that because of Elway's love for Lynch and Vance Joseph's adoration for Chad Kelly ("my favorite quarterback in the draft''), the Broncos will trade back in the first round - especially after the Jets' bombastic trade Saturday for the Colts' third overall selection.

The Bills are trying to climb into the top five to choose a quarterback - and now own the 12th and the 22nd slots. The Broncos should consider trading their first-round spot, a second-rounder and a fourth-rounder (1,969.5 points on the NFL draft value chart) for Buffalo's two first-round picks (1,970).

They could use No. 12 for Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey and No. 22 for UTEP guard Will Hernandez. With that pair and left tackle Garett Bolles, left guard Ron Leary, center Matt Paradis, and guard-center Connor McGovern, the Broncos would be established on the offensive line into the next decade.

With their later choices, the Broncos could draft a running back, a wide receiver, a tight end, a defensive end, a defensive tackle, outside and inside linebackers and a defensive back.

It's very possible that the Broncos' roster could include as many as two dozen players from the 2016-2018 drafts, and another four undrafted free agents from that span.

They must, though, try to add two more players in veteran free agents.

It was if the Broncos went into a Target on Black Friday, grabbed their big-ticket item and fled. The free agent store has been picked over. Out of the most prominent 100 free agents, fewer than 10 are unsigned.

The Broncos resigned their own starting inside linebacker - Todd Davis - and potential nickel cornerback Tramaine Brock, and that's it. Elway said Friday the Broncos are searching, but admitted they missed on two offensive tackles. If they want experience and familiarity at wide receiver and tight end, former Broncos Eric Decker and Julius Thomas are floating. But Elway won't bite. How about Antonio Gates, who is free of the Chargers? But the future Hall of Famer is 38. Eric Ebron, late of the Lions and a former No. 1 bust, is out there, but the Broncos likely have no interest. Cameron Fleming, who took over as a right tackle for the Patriots last season because of an injury, is available.

Otherwise, the field is like the "Dr. Strangelove'' pilot - Slim Pickens.

The Broncos did get their main man, and Casey's at the, uh, bat.

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