Denver Broncos could retain Drew Lock as starting QB for 2021 season

Dec 27, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) looks to pass during the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Once team president John Elway gave up general manager duties following the 2020 season, questions came up regarding the future of Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock.

A second-round pick of the Broncos back in 2019, Lock was hand selected by Elway to take over quarterback duties for an organization that has struggled at this position since Peyton Manning’s retirement.

At least initially, the Missouri product looked darn good as a rookie in 2019. Unfortunately, Lock regressed as a sophomore — leading to speculation that Denver might move on from him as the team’s starting quarterback next season. That might no longer be the case.

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New Denver Broncos general manager George Paton speaks highly of Drew Lock

Could the Denver Broncos retain QB Drew Lock?
Jan 3, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock (3) during the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

“I liked Drew coming out of the draft. A big arm, athletic, a play-maker,” Paton said at his introductory press conference on Tuesday, via Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post. “I haven’t gotten into a lot of tape. I’ve only been here four days. I’ve watched enough tape to know that he’s talented. He can develop.”

Just recently hired from the Minnesota Vikings, Paton does not seem like someone ready to move off Lock after just two seasons. He also spoke to a wider team-building philosophy outside of acquiring a true franchise quarterback.

“I think we all want the franchise quarterback and that’s the No. 1 goal,” Paton said, via Troy Renck of KMGH. “You try to draft and develop and acquire any way you can. We are looking.”

During his 14-year stint in the Vikings’ front office, Paton helped oversee an organization that didn’t necessarily have a franchise quarterback. In fact, Minnesota earned six playoff appearances with six different starting quarterbacks during that span.

That’s all fine and dandy. However, the Denver Broncos’ quarterback situation has been among the worst in the NFL since Manning’s retirement following the 2015 season. Drew Lock did not change that in 2020.

Related: Denver Broncos QB options for 2021

Drew Lock stats and regression as a sophomore

  • 2019: 64.1% completion, 1,020 yards, seven touchdowns, three interceptions (five starts)
  • 2020: 57.3% completion, 2,933 yards, 16 touchdowns, 15 interceptions (13 starts)

It must be noted that Pro Bowl receiver Courtland Sutton missed all but one game this past season to a torn ACL after he made sweet music with Drew Lock during the 2019 campaign.

That forced the young quarterback to rely on a rookie in Jerry Jeudy who had a case of the dropsies in his first NFL season. This can’t be lost on Lock’s struggles.

Even then, Lock finished his sophomore campaign tied with Carson Wentz for the most interceptions in the NFL. He also led the league’s fifth-worst scoring offense.

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Denver Broncos options at quarterback

Could the Denver Broncos replace Drew Lock with Carson Wentz?
Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite speaking glowingly of Lock, Paton does not have a built-in relationship with the young quarterback. Given that he’s now in control of player personnel in Denver, it stands to reason that the general manager will at least look at outside options.

In terms of potential trades, Wentz is the type of quarterback Elway has looked for in the past. The prototypical signal caller with a huge arm. And while Elway won’t have final say in player personnel decisions, there’s every reason to believe he’ll be in Paton’s ear.

The likes of Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers) and Matthew Stafford (Lions) could also be options on the trade block. All three would represent an immediate upgrade over Drew Lock for the Denver Broncos.

However, the biggest prize would be unhappy Houston Texans Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson. It would take a bounty to acquire his services. Is that a price the rebuilding Broncos would be willing to pay with issues on both sides of the ball? This is why Paton gets paid the big bucks.

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