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Woody Paige: Denver Broncos needs to exit quarterback carousel

December 2, 2017 Updated: December 3, 2017 at 9:12 am
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Denver Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian (13) pauses before getting up following a sack during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

Absurdly, four former and current Broncos quarterback starters are on the rosters of the two teams that play in south Florida on Sunday.

By my calculation, the Broncos could have 64 future starting quarterback options for 2018.

Same as the number of crayons in a big box. Color the Broncos orange, blue and ludicrous.

The Broncos can attempt to choose from among 28 NFL free-agent quarterbacks, two veteran starters who will be traded or released, another rather recognizable quarterback out of football, 33 college quarterbacks available for the draft or to be signed as afterthoughts and four quarterbacks under contract to the Broncos.

That adds up to 68.

Subtract four - Jay Cutler, Brock Osweiler and the quarterbacks at the University of Memphis and Northwestern - for obvious reasons.

Which leaves 64 prospects.

Seems likes an assertion out of Cleveland.

Nevertheless, since 2008, the Broncos have drafted seven quarterbacks, traded for three and signed 12 veteran or undrafted free-agent quarterbacks.

Twenty-three quarterbacks have spent time with the Broncos from 2008-2017.

During the 10-year span, in regular-season games, the Broncos have started eight quarterbacks - Cutler (16), Kyle Orton (33), Chris Simms (1), Tim Tebow (14), Peyton Manning (57), Brock Osweiler (10), Trevor Siemian (21) and Paxton Lynch (3).

Manning started eight postseason games, Tebow two, the rest none.

Without Manning in Denver, the Broncos might have burned through another half-dozen quarterbacks.

Who's next next season?

The Broncos could just stay as is and let Trevor, Paxton, Brock and Chad Kelly - remember Mr. Irrelevant? - compete for the starting job.

Surely not again.

Brock certainly won't be back. And nobody knows about the future of Siemian and Lynch. Both still will be under contract in '18 at $2.33 million and $2.58 million. Kelly's salary and bonus will be $571,000.

The Broncos already have made three quarterback changes this year - and could create competition in camp. But would the players, the public, the press, the coaches and the front office accept and endure a third straight involving Trevor, Paxton and Chad. Oh, no.

If Trevor wins four of the final five, then what?

Do the Broncos draft yet another quarterback in the first or second round? Does John Elway go after a high-ticket, $25 million-type free agent or make a deal for a veteran?

It's a multiple choice quiz, or even a myriad mystery.

But let's narrow the playing field.

The Broncos, depending on NFL results this month, could end up with a first-round selection as high as four, perhaps as low as 10.

Cleveland will get yet another opportunity to draft a quarterback. San Francisco probably will, too, no matter the Jimmy Garoppolo situation. Both New York franchises will be thinking QB.

Of the copious college choices, the superior six are UCLA's Josh Rosen, USC's Sam Darnold, Louisville's Lamar Jackson, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph. Allen's stock has fallen, and Rudolph is considered a love-hate prospect.

There is suspense surrounding Baker Mayfield, who threw four touchdown passes Saturday as the Sooners secured a spot in the national playoff semifinals. Is Mayfield, who will win the Heisman, Johnny Unitas or Johnny Manziel?

Jackson won the Heisman last year and has improved considerably, but his performance against Clemson was mediocre.

Darnold and Rosen vie to become No. 1 and 2 overall. Darnold could use another year in college, and doubts about Rosen as a franchise quarterback simmer.

Gary Kubiak's principal role in rejoining the Broncos this year is to evaluate college quarterbacks and advise Elway. Which do Kubiak prefer? The Broncos' ex-QB and coach is not talking. The other six former quarterbacks or quarterback coaches with the Broncos' organization will have significant input, but Elway, of course, will make the final call. But his last call - Lynch - hasn't been special.

Jackson would be my prime pick.

If the Broncos decide to chase a veteran unrestricted free agent, the elite seven presumably are Kirk Cousins, Garoppolo, Alex Smith and three Vikings quarterbacks - Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater and Case Keenum. Drew Brees already has said he's not leaving the Saints, and the 49ers will sign Garoppolo.

"K'' would be my optimum preference. Kirk or Keenum.

The present Broncos' quarterback loses to Broncos' past quarterback Sunday, 24-20.

It's imperative that the Broncos get off the quarterback carousel.

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