The Denver Broncos know they need to upgrade the quarterback situation. General manager John Elway has said it. Coach Vance Joseph said it. The players said it before the year even ended. Change is coming.
The question for Elway is what shape does that change take: Another young QB in the draft with the No. 5 overall pick, or veteran free agent?
“In my opinion, we’ve already drafted a quarterback, first round a couple years ago. So we’ve tried that,” Marshall said. “I think he’s going to get a free-agent quarterback. I think he’s going to go spend some money and fix the position, you know, because it’s kind of a toss-up with these rookie quarterbacks. You never know. But the only thing about getting a free-agent quarterback is some guys will have to go. I hope everybody gets to stay, but that’s just the business.”
There is one potential free-agent quarterback continuously linked with the Broncos: Kirk Cousins. That’s the name Marshall conjured when asked if he preferred one particular free-agent QB.
“I mean, there’s a couple guys out there,” Marshall said. “You know. We played against a guy in Week 16 that was pretty good. There’s a couple guys out there.”
Broncos players — particularly on defense — have been effusive in their praise of Cousins. Von Miller noted after that Week 16 game “a lot of teams would kill to have a quarterback like that.” Corner Aqib Talib called Cousins “a real NFL quarterback” — a compliment to the Redskins QB and a shade grenade at his own signal-callers.
Shipping Cousins and the Broncos seems almost too easy. The Redskins could still employ the astronomical $34 million franchise tag. Other QB needy teams — Jaguars, Jets, Browns, Bills — have the cash to toss at the QB as well. However, there are few other options set to hit the open market that would be a clear upgrade on what’s already in-house (unless Elway can somehow lure another Hall of Fame quarterback to Mile High, Drew Brees).
Veteran players know Elway won’t enter the 2018 season with the same quarterback trio of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch. Despite knowing it might come at the cost of several veteran defenders, those players are sending their message loud and clear: We want Cousins.