3 Denver Broncos quarterback options after missing out on Sam Darnold

It’s being noted that the Denver Broncos had interest in New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold prior to his trade to the Carolina Panthers earlier in the week.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated notes that Denver joined the likes of the San Francisco 49ers in showing interest in Darnold earlier in the offseason.

It’s not in any way a surprise given the struggles these Broncos saw from Drew Lock as a sophomore a season ago. He tied with Carson Wentz for the league lead in interceptions with 15. New Broncos general manager George Paton also doesn’t have a built-in relationship with Lock.

Now that most of the starter-caliber quarterbacks previously involved in trade talks are off the board and with Deshaun Watson’s legal situation making a deal practically impossible, the Denver Broncos are back to the drawing board. Below, we’ll look at their three-best options at quarterback heading into the 2021 NFL season.

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Denver Broncos trade for Jimmy Garoppolo

Denver Broncos trade for Jimmy Garoppolo
Dec 8, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) reacts after a touchdown in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

It must be noted that Broncos president John Elway has a great relationship with 49ers general manager John Lynch dating back to their days together as teammates in Denver. A potential trade of this magnitude could go down pretty quickly as the 2021 NFL Draft approaches. It could also happen during the annual event itself.

Despite missing all but six games to injury a season ago, Jimmy Garoppolo is still seen as a starter-caliber quarterback in the NFL. He’s also a pretty solid fit in offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s offense. That could play a role in potential trade conversations.

While San Francisco’s brass has pushed back against the idea of trading Garoppolo, the team’s move up to the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft changes the dynamics here. And following the bounty the New York Jets got for Sam Darnold, San Francisco’s asking price of a first-round pick doesn’t seem too ridiculous anymore. Rather than giving up the ninth pick for Garoppolo, Denver could offer up its second-round pick in 2021 and 2022 for the quarterback. It’s a reasonable trade option.

Read More: 3 reasons why the San Francisco 49ers will trade Jimmy Garoppolo

Denver Broncos trade up in 2021 NFL Draft

Denver Broncos trade for Justin Fields
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) is pressured by Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker King Mwikuta (30) in the second quarter in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

This would likely be more expensive from a compensation standpoint than trading for Garoppolo. Remember, San Francisco yielded three first-round picks and a third-round selection to move up from 12 to three. While the Broncos wouldn’t have to pay as much in a potential trade with the Falcons at four, it would cost a nice bounty. Denver is likely looking at a first-round pick next year and its second-rounder this month to move up.

It would definitely be a defining moment early in George Paton’s tenure as the Broncos’ chief decision-maker. But if the general manager likes what he sees after San Francisco picks at three, it makes perfect sense. Said pick could come in the form of Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones — finally giving the Broncos a franchise-type quarterback in the process.

Read More: Denver Broncos mock draft: 7-round 2021 NFL Draft projections with trades

Denver Broncos run it back with Drew Lock, find some competition

Denver Broncos trade for Teddy Bridgewater
Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the Panthers have added Darnold to the mix, Teddy Bridgewater is firmly available in trade talks. It’s interesting in that the former Minnesota Vikings’ first-round pick has a built-in relationship with Paton dating back to their time together in the Twin Cities. It could also be the best of both worlds for Bridgewater and the Broncos.

The idea would be for Teddy to come in and compete with Lock for the starting job during training camp. The former Pro Bowl quarterback is willing to lower his salary in order to help facilitate a trade. He’d also come cheap from a compensation standpoint. This might make the most sense for Denver.