Despite the hue and the cry and the who, the Broncos’ predominantly orange-and-blueprint for a starting quarterback likely won’t be clarified until the NFL draft in late April, or perhaps not even before the opening of the regular season in early September.
Nevertheless, general (manager) George Paton says the franchise has “a plan in place ...”
What is Plan A? Do the Broncos have a Strategy B, a Plot C?
And does Design D affect every “D” from Drew to Deshaun to defense to draft to Denver?
On March 20, 2012, when Peyton Manning signed with the Broncos, John Elway was asked if the Broncos had a Plan B in case. “Plan B? I don’t have a Plan B. We’re going with Plan A,’’ the Broncos’ executive vice-president-general manager said. The conference room at Dove Valley erupted with laughter.
Nobody at Broncos headquarters Thursday was chortling when Paton, Elway’s successor, addressed the quarterback quandary. “We’ve evaluated all the quarterbacks. We like Drew Lock. We have a plan in place, and there’s free agency; there’s the draft; there’s trades; there’s a lot of ways to acquire a quarterback. Fortunately, we have a quarterback here, and we have a nice quarterback room. We do want to bring in competition. We are not going to force it. We are monitoring it right now.’’
G-Man even acknowledged that the possibility of picking a quarterback with the No. 9 overall draft choice “is in play.’’
He seemed to cover all the options.
Except those statements did not mention Deshaun Watson and cover the subject of seven civil suits filed by a Houston attorney who represents women accusing the Texans’ quarterback of misconduct and/or sexual advances during massages. Lawyer Tony Buzbee claimed he would be going forward with five more lawsuits, and he had talked with 10 additional women who had interaction with Watson.
Watson, whose attorney denies the allegations, has been blunt about his desire to be traded from Houston because the team did not include him, as promised, in the searches for a new general manager and new coach.
The Broncos, according to multiple reports and rumors, have been included among teams interested in Watson. Several have inquired with the Texans, but GM Nick Caserio, late of the Patriots, won’t take calls and doesn’t want to trade Watson.
Watson would have to waive a no-trade clause.
Prior to the trade hullabaloo, then the assertions by masseuses, and just before the 2020 season, the 26-year-old Watson signed a four-year contract extension for $156 million.
The Broncos have become a popular national destination for Watson, particularly because of the Lock ambiguity and the team’s lack of getting another quarterback to compete here. One gambling site has positioned Denver as No. 1; a report from an NFL commentator suggested that the Broncos and the 49ers were Watson’s two choices, and Kareem Jackson, whose option has been declined by the Broncos, said Watson, his former teammate, would like to join the Broncos.
The Panthers and the Eagles have focused fully on obtaining Watson. The 49ers, the Patriots and the Jets are other teams that might be curious.
Paton says the Broncos will be involved in major NFL trades, and did reach out to the Lions in the bidding for Matt Stafford, but the GM remains silent on specifics, and leaks at the Broncos’ building have been plugged.
So, only selected staff members know how Paton feels about an acquisition of Watson or a drafting of Trey Lance or a signing of the last veteran free agent standing.
Most of the horde of pro-Watson people in Colorado have shut up as a result of the allegations the past several days. An NFL source told me that GMs intrigued with Watson will continue the pursuit.
If Carolina is able to trade for Watson, the Broncos might have a better chance at Lance, depending on what the Texans do at No. 8.
The Watson issue may not be settled by the draft or training camp or for a year. Will the Broncos or any other team be willing to give up three first-round draft choices and more for Watson under these circumstances?
The Broncos should not.
George Paton must have a Plan A. Or else.