Tony Romo news affects Broncos' QB options only to a degree

For the Broncos, news of Tony Romo's departure from the NFL likely changes nothing.

For the Broncos, perhapsnews of Tony Romo's departurefrom the NFL changes nothing. John Elwayhad plenty of time to acquire the 36-year-old quarterback for the 2017 season and beyond, and Denver's head honcho did not pull the trigger.

Buteven though we'll never know exactly howlegitimate an option Romo was for the Broncos, they doindeed lose an option when the soon-to-be-ex-Cowboy leaves football for a TV gig.

Elwayhas said heplans to add a third quarterback to Denver's roster, which as of Tuesday morning included only Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. That pair combined for all 16 starts last season and produced a 9-7 record with 3,898 yards, 20 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

That pair also was the big winner Tuesday, when the world found out for sureRomo would not become Denver'sthird QB.

STEELE: Romo's career is worthy of praise

"We're happy with our young guys and are going to continue to work and train them," Elwaytold SNlast week. "We feel like we've got the answer there for the future. But you never know until you get out there and see how they do."

Elway, though, has seen "how they do," granted only via limited playing time.

Siemian, Denver's seventh-round draft pick in 2015, started14 games in2016 and managed a QB rating of 84.6. Lynch, Denver's first-round pick in 2016 and the guy the teamhopes will become its long-term No. 1, startedtwo games and managed a rating of 79.2.

Elway knows those numbers aren't great, but he also knows the numbers produced by the 2015 Super Bowl-winningcombination of Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler — season QB ratings of 67.9 and 86.4, respectively — weren't great, either.


So expect the Broncos to enter the 2017 season with a QB room similar to the one theytook into '16.

Unless, of course, Denver pulls an upset and goes for one of the following remaining options.

Sign Colin Kaepernick in free agency: SN's Vinnie Iyersees onlysix free-agency fits for Kaepernick, and the Broncos are not one of them. Elway,who last offseason expressed interest in trading for the then-49ers quarterback, explained to SN at leastpart of the reason:a change in Denver's offense under new coordinator Mike McCoy.

"Last year, we didn’t have anybody at the time," Elwaysaid. "I felt what we did last year in a West Coast offense that (Kaepernick)would have been a good fit for us in that situation."

Kaepernick, 29, remains the top free-agent QB on the market. The reason he's still available— whether that'shis national anthem protest, his vegan diet, his scheme fitor his contract demands —varies depending on who's asked.

Regardless, Kaepernick does not appear to be an option for Denver.

— Sign Jay Cutler in free agency: The Broncos' first-round draft pick in 2006does notseem worried about hisstate of unemployment — he certainly has been putting the "free" in free agency.

Cutler, 33, was releasedby the Bearslast monthafter eight seasons in Chicago. His career numbers, including his first three NFL seasons in Denver: 32,467 yards, 208 touchdowns, 146 interceptions and a rating of 85.7. He has shown no indication of hisretirement (unless thenude escapadeisa sign).

But Cutler also is not a guaranteed upgrade over what the Broncos already have at QB. He certainly would be able to demand more money, as Siemian and Lynch are playing on cheap, rookie contracts.

Therealso is no reason to believe Cutler would be a better fit for McCoy's scheme than Kaepernick. Barring an injury, don't expect the Broncos to dip into their own history and sign an aging Cutler.

— Draft a quarterback: Typical of a general manager refusing to provide hints, Elwaylast week did not discredit the idea of the Broncos drafting a quarterback in 2017. Why would he?

"With the draft coming up you never know," Elway said."We’ve drafted QBs in four out of the past five drafts so we’re always in the market to find that guy."

All NFL teamsshould always be in the market for a quarterback. If the Broncos pin a prospect capable of becoming a superstar, it's their obligation to give said prospect a shot.

The problem for Denver:Its selection of a quarterback early in the draft would not necessarily provideshort-term improvement at the position. It also would signal the failure of Lynch as a first-rounder.

Rather than Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, DeShone Kizer, Patrick Mahomes or any QB, offensive tackle Garrett Bolles is Denver's first-round pick in SN'slatest Mock Draft. Running back is another option.

Elway, after all, realizes the Broncos' offensive issues extend beyond quarterback.

"Obviously, (the quality of running) back means a lot and we’ve got to get better up front," he said. "The bottom line is we have to have good balance. We’re not going to do one or the other."

MORE: Mock Draft 2017

If Elway still wants to sign a third QB, the list of free-agency options beyond Kaepernick and Cutler is, well ...

... Robert Griffin III, Shaun Hill, David Fales, T.J. Yates, Matt McGloin, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Blain Gabbert, Christian Ponder, Austin Davis, Ryan Nassib, Thad Lewis, Dan Orlovsky, Kellen Moore ...

... You get the idea.

Chances are it's same song, different verse for the Broncos at quarterback in 2017. Elway has indicated Siemian and Lynch will compete for the starting job, presumably with Lynch getting more of a chance than he was given as a rookie.

The Romo-to-Denveridea seemingly made sense to everybody but Elway, who, keep in mind, always seems to have a plan.

Fans who hoped Romo was part of that plan, as somewhat of a second coming of Manning's late-career success in Denver, can forget about it.


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