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Woody Paige: John Elway might go with vet and draft pick at QB, among other strategies

March 10, 2018 Updated: March 12, 2018 at 1:01 pm
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FILE - In this Aug. 15, 2015 file photo, Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) dives for the first down marker during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Carolina Panthers in Orchard Park, N.Y. Two people familiar with the trade said Friday, March 9, 2018, the Cleveland Browns have agreed to acquire Taylor from the Bills for a third-round draft pick this year. (AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File)

In poker parlance, John Elway provided an important "tell.''

The Broncos' Boss tried to trade for Tyrod Taylor.

If the Broncos had been successful in acquiring the Bills quarterback, they would have removed themselves from the Kirk Cousins Sweepstakes and definitely drafted a quarterback with the fifth overall choice. Taylor would be a placeholder this season - in the role Steve DeBerg served in 1983 when the Broncos secured rookie John Elway.

But the Broncos' offer of one of their two fourth-round picks (106 and 109) was eclipsed by the Browns' bid of the 60th pick.

The Broncos previously lost out in 2015 on an effort to sign Taylor, then a free agent. The Bills beat Broncos because Taylor didn't want to be a backup, as he was with the Ravens, and Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler still were playing in Denver. Buffalo provided him with a chance to become a starter.

Elway was interested three years ago because new coach Gary Kubiak had worked with Taylor the previous season as offensive coordinator in Baltimore.

Another telling point is Taylor is 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. Perhaps Elway is open to a quarterback who isn't so tall (like Osweiler and Paxton Lynch). One first-round QB draft candidate at the NFL combine was taped at five-eighths of an inch over 6 feet - a quarter of an inch taller than his measurement at the Senior Bowl. Baker Mayfield also weighs 215 pounds.

Did Elway reveal his quarterback strategy - pairing a veteran with a draft choice?

Vikings QBs Football
FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016 file photo, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the San Diego Chargers in Minneapolis. Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman says the organization has not yet determined whether to activate quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from the physically unable to perform list next week. Spielman told reporters that Bridgewater will be evaluated again following practice on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King, File) 

Does he have a Josh Plan - Josh McCown and Josh Rosen or Josh Allen? A Sooners' tactic - Sam Bradford and Baker Mayfield (who both played at Oklahoma)? Or a scheme featuring Teddy Bridgewater as a Bridge quarterback with Sam Darnold?

The Elway vision should be clearer beginning Monday when NFL teams are allowed to legally tamper (an oxymoron) with unrestricted free agents' agents, and the signings can begin Wednesday.

The Broncos certainly will pursue Cousins, and most likely reach out to Case Keenum - who also has a Kubiak connection. Keenum was signed as a free agent out of the University of Houston by Kubiak, then the Houston Texans coach.

Speculation, most of it absolutely wrong, about the Broncos abounds.

But we'll all find out more this week.

And, although quarterback is the most vital position for the Broncos in the offseason, they obviously need veteran free agents at several other positions - offensive tackle and guard, wide receiver, tight end, running back, defensive line, inside linebacker and cornerback.

The Broncos should strike quickly and aggressively Monday and Tuesday.

Broncos backers have raised a hue, and a cry, about the lack of sufficient salary-cap space to sign Cousins and others.

The Broncos will be fine, thank you. With the trade of Aqib Talib, the franchise freed $11 million, and space carryover from 2017 gives them $10 million more to work with. The current total is approximately $36 mil, and the Broncos can surpass $40 million by releasing or trading C.J. Anderson ($4.5 mil), Trevor Siemian ($1.9 mil) and Menelik Watson ($4.4M after dead money). They also can jettison three other young players you've never heard of for another $2 million, and would move into the top 10 among NFL teams with about $48 million in room for additional players.

Despite their run at Cousins, the Broncos likely will finish second to the Vikings. Keenum is a ?

The Broncos could offer McCown a one-year deal at $9 million. He was exceptional with a lousy team in 2017 - throwing for just under 3,000 yards (67.5 percent) with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Then they draft one or the other Josh.

But they must get some real value in free agency: guard Andrew Norwell, tackle Cameron Fleming, tight end Trey Burton (or Austin Seferian-Jenkins), wide receiver Paul Richardson (or Marqise Lee), defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, inside linebacker Zach Brown (or Avery Williamson) and cornerback Malcolm Butler (in spite of his benching in the Super Bowl).

After he drafts a quarterback in the first round, Elway can mix-and-match, and make trades, with the team's eight picks in the second-fifth rounds, and the two in the last two rounds.

Deal the cards. Elway will be all in.

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