The Broncos expected signing of Case Keenum has a major ripple effect on the early portion of the 2018 NFL Draft, especially pertaining to the super-hyped quarterback prospects and the teams lining up to select them.
Yes, one move on the free-agent quarterback market — not even the big one — changes a lot at the top of the draft.
Let’s pinpoint the winners and losers of Keenum reuniting with Gary Kubiak in Denver.
Broncos – Signing Keenum represents the best of both worlds for the Broncos. It alleviates some pressure to draft a quarterback at No. 5 overall yet doesn’t tie them to an exorbitant quarterback contract in the long term. Landing Kirk Cousins would’ve been fun, but he would’ve been probably close to $10M more per season than Keenum and eliminated the chances Denver grabbed one of the highly sought after signal-callers in this class. A quarterback at No. 5 isn’t totally out of the question, it’s just not as blatantly obvious as it was even a day ago. Denver hedged its bet.
Bills – For a team seemingly making a 2016 Eagles‘ incremental ascension up the board before one final move into the top 5 to select a quarterback, Buffalo should be jumping through tables after getting word of Keenum signing in Denver. With one less team potentially out of the signal-caller sweepstakes ahead of them in the draft, it increases the chances the Bills won’t have to move up as far to get the quarterback they want. The further the collective group of quarterbacks falls, the better for Brandon Beane, Sean McDermott and Co.
Cardinals – Arizona should feel similarly to Buffalo for the same reasons. They’re not a front-runner for Kirk Cousins and have a gaping hole at quarterback.
Jets – Same deal here for Gang Green. Sitting one spot behind the Broncos, it was easy to envision the Jets just missing out on the quarterback they desired most. After the Keenum deal is official, there’s a much better likelihood that the signal-caller they want — whoever it is — will be there at No. 6 overall.
Dolphins – The worst-kept secret of the offseason has been the Dolphins serious interest in adding a quarterback in the first round of this draft even with Ryan Tannehill still on the roster. The veteran is coming off a knee-ligament tear and could be cut with minimal dead cap and huge savings. The latter is desperately needed in Miami, as the club is currently more than $3 million over the cap. Woof. Mike Tannenbaum, Chris Grier, and Adam Gase have to be pumped about the Broncos’ signing of Keenum.
Browns – There’s some thought the Browns would love to move down from No. 4 overall after taking a quarterback with the top pick, and prior to the Keenum signing, they were a prime destination for a team like the Dolphins, Bills, or Cardinals in a possible trade up to get ahead of the Broncos. Not anymore.
Colts – The same premise applies to the Colts, and really, they’ve been the most likely trade back team early in the draft since the regular season ended due to no need at quarterback and a roster in dire need of a multitude of upgrades on both sides of the ball. Now, they’re simply not as attractive of a trade-up location.
Buccaneers – While four quarterbacks going in the first six picks is still a reasonable possibility, the chances of it happening decreased with Keenum signing with the Broncos. Why does that matter to the Buccaneers? Without a need at quarterback, the more signal-callers that went in front of them, the more elite non-quarterback prospects would’ve fallen — see: Chubb, Bradley. While it certainly could still happen, the Colts aren’t as likely to trade back, meaning the chances Chubb lands in Indy were raised by Keenum landing in Denver.
Paxton Lynch – As if the writing wasn’t already on the wall after he was unable to beat out Trevor Siemian in his sophomore season in the NFL, Lynch now will have a well-paid veteran quarterback with ties to Kubiak to deal with in a quarterback competition … if there even is a legitimate one this summer.