George Paton will have the final declaration of decree regarding the Broncos’ quarterback — specifically if another Rocky Mountain-quaking acquisition in the tradition of John Elway and Peyton Manning is involved.
Elway himself responded to the mindful matter Tuesday at the 45-minute introductory media Zoom conference.
I asked John, who remains president of football operations, that should the new general manager bring him a potential trade for, say, a franchise-type quarterback who could cost the Broncos three first-round draft choices and two star players, would he invoke veto power or offer his opinion and allow George to make the ruling.
“I’m going to add my input obviously on something that has such a huge impact that you are talking about,’’ Elway told us from his kitchen.
“But, ultimately, it’s going to be George’s decision.’’
Of course, the 50 people on the video call, and everyone in Colorado and parts unknown, and Elway, knew I was talking about the elephants, or, more clearly, the quarterbacks, who weren’t in the room — Deshaun Watson of the Texans at this moment and Drew Lock, the starter with the Broncos for the time being.
Paton announced earlier in the 45-minute session: “We all want a franchise quarterback.’’
Later, he added a foot(ball)note: “But, obviously, we’re looking.’’
Will Lock be The Man?
Would Watson become The Savior?
Elway was The Man, The Myth, The Savior.
He was traded from the Colts in 1983 for the Broncos’ first-round draft choice — offensive tackle Chris Hinton — and the franchise’s 1984 first-round selection (who would be offensive guard Ron Solt), quarterback Mark Herrmann and two exhibition games in Denver for which the Colts would earn a share of the proceeds.
Watson would be valued even higher in the current NFL.
The disgruntled, disgusted Watson seeks to be traded, with the Texans, if they elect to let him go, probably requiring three first-round picks and perhaps a pair of plus players. No exhibitions.
Colorado was Peyton’s Place; it was transformed Tuesday into Paton’s Predicament.
Lock, Watson, a college quarterback at No. 9 overall, a veteran free agent quarterback?
It’s the Quarterback Quandary for the new GM.
Welcome to Denver, rookie!
Watson wasn’t mentioned once, but his absence was felt. Not even Sherlock Holmes could solve this mystery, but he would exclaim: “Watson, the game is afoot.’’
Lock’s presence in Denver was addressed by Paton, Elway and coach Vic Fangio.
“Quarterback is the most important potion in sports,’’ Paton opined, but offered that his former team, the Vikings, reached the playoffs with six different quarterbacks. He didn’t cite that they drafted five quarterbacks during his 2007-2020 employment. Three couldn’t play dead in a Western, and only first-rounders Christian Ponder and Teddy Bridgewater were starters. They generally relied on the acquired taste of veterans — Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb, Matt Cassel, Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and, finally, Kirk Cousins, who can earn $140 million in Minneapolis.
As I wrote Sunday, Paton had scouted Lock coming out of Missouri — “big arm, athletic, playmaker,’’ he described Tuesday — but admitted he “hadn’t studied’’ Lock while with the Vikings or since joining the Broncos. He will extensively examine The Drew Lock Tapes after meeting with the scouting staff and hiring of an assistant GM.
Paton reemphasized his “draft and development’’ philosophy and his “aggressive, but not reckless’’ approach to trades and free agency.
Elway again praised Lock, but indicated the QB had a difficult year because of the issues surrounding the Broncos and NFL because of COVID-19. Neither Elway nor Fangio are stating emphatically now that Lock will be the starter.
Fangio said he, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and quarterback coach Mike Shula have not expressed their opinions of Lock to Paton. “I think the best way is for George to go evaluate him himself and not have us influence his thinking’’ so the general manager can take a “sterile look’’ at Lock. “Obviously, we can answer George’s questions about the situation (at quarterback).’’
As a former high school quarterback and a personnel professional for a quarter of a century, Paton knows quarterbacks. But he said Tuesday that major judgments will be the result of a “consensus.’’
However, for the Broncos’ franchise, the fanatical followers, Fangio and the future, “Ultimately, it’s going to be George’s decision’’ about a quarterback who proves to be epic.