Denver Broncos executive Vice-President and General Manager John Elway gestures during preseason game three at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver on August 27, 2016. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI
Denver Broncos executive vice president John Elway told a Denver television station last week that the team is prioritizing getting a quarterback following a 5-11 season.
The Broncos have the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft and could take a quarterback there. Elway said the team could also pursue a free agent such as Kirk Cousins or trade picks for someone such as Alex Smith.
"Any time you draft that high you have to make ’em count," Elway told KUSA-TV. "We’ve got a lot of picks so we have the ammo also (to trade), so we’ve got to make sure we make them all count."
Cousins, of the Washington Redskins, is expected to fetch a high price on the free agent market this year. He is coming off a season in which he completed 64.3 percent of his passes for more than 4,000 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions for a 93.9 passer rating. However, his numbers were a bit down from 2016.
Smith is still under contract for another season with the Kansas City Chiefs but they also have a young prospect in Patrick Mahomes II, making Smith a possible trade target.
Smith put up numbers similar to Cousins except for fewer interceptions (five) and a higher 104.7 passer rating. He is set to make $20.6 million next season, including a $2 million roster bonus due at the beginning of training camp. The Chiefs are reportedly close to the salary cap as it is.
The Broncos have had trouble getting consistent production out of the quarterback position since Peyton Manning retired after winning the Super Bowl two years ago.
In 2017, Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch combined to complete just 58.7 percent of their passes for 3,668 yards with 19 touchdowns and 22 interceptions for a 73.0 passer rating.
After coming off a losing season that included such mediocre production from the quarterbacks, Elway’s patience is being tested.
"You know, it comes with the territory," Elway said. "It’s expectations. We have those same expectations of ourselves. Every time you go through a 5-11 year, it’s miserable. I don’t think people understand how miserable it is going through it. As hard as it is for them, it’s hard for us, too."
The Broncos may decide to just use the No. 5 overall pick on a quarterback. Elway spent part of last week looking at prospects at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
Some of those prospects included Wyoming’s Josh Allen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, who won the Heisman Trophy. Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta and Western Kentucky’s Mike White ended up leading the South to a 45-16 romp over the North.
What is Elway looking for in a quarterback?
"It is about the tape, but that’s only part of it," Elway said. "You’ve got to find out what they’re made of and if they love the game. It’s a hard game. If they don’t love it, it’s hard for them to be successful."