Let’s talk about the Denver Broncos quarterbacks, because I don’t recall doing that yet this August. There’s been no conversation regarding this Tim Tebow fella, and it’s not as if every other day someone calls him a failure.
In the business we call the above paragraph sarcasm, but that’s just a technical term. You’re tired of Tebow by now, but the shame is that you shouldn’t be. He’s a unique talent in just his second year, and his value has been inflated by Josh McDaniels’ drafting mistake. He’ll continue to carry that tag, and this year he’ll do it as the third-string quarterback.
That could change quickly next year. Both Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn are entering free agency, with Orton’s two-year, $11.6 million contract expiring, and Quinn’s rookie deal on its last legs.
Orton is in his prime at 28 years old, and his value will only escalate with another strong season. So if he had solid footing in Denver, discussion of a contract extension would have taken place already. But it hasn’t, according to Jeff Legwold of the Denver Post, who said there’s no indication that the organization intends to tack on a few more years to Orton’s deal.
In fact, failing to convince Orton to re-do his current contract played a role in trade talks falling apart with Miami. He wants market value, and he wants to capitalize on his prime years. Ditto for Quinn, who suddenly has re-gained a morsel of respect league-wide, and has aspirations of being a starter again.
That leaves us with one familiar name: Tebow.
As Legwold writes, Tebow is signed for the next five years, and the Broncos recently made a strong financial commitment.
Not only is Tebow under contract next year and beyond, but the team just gave him a bonus of just over $6 million. The Broncos appear to be positioning themselves to let him learn this season and see what they can do with him in an offseason that doesn’t include a lockout.
Tebow’s 2012 fate–and possibly his career in Denver–then becomes tied to the Broncos’ defense, and if it remains incredibly bad despite the addition of Von Miller. That defense allowed a league-worst 390.8 yards per game and was 31st against the run, and 25th against the pass. All those numbers added up to Denver being on the wrong end of shootouts, and as a result holding the second overall pick in the 2011 draft. A similar outcome this year could force John Elway and new head coach John Fox to finally make a definitive decision on Tebow.
The 2011 draft wasn’t particularly strong at the quarterback position, causing Tennessee and Minnesota to overpay for Jake Locker and Christian Ponder out of desperation. But as we outlined way back in March, 2012 will be much different, and it goes beyond the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Luck is the clear leader, but he’s closely followed by USC’s Matt Barkley and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones.
If the forecasted quarterback exodus in Denver happens, Tebow will look to impress during a normal offseason sans lockout and improve during mini-camps. In the meantime, he’ll do a lot of helpless watching.