The sweepstakes are over. Kirk Cousins is a Viking and Case Keenum is a Bronco. While the world praises Cousins for betting on himself and taking a short-term guaranteed contract with Minnesota, the Broncos decided to spend considerably less on Keenum.
Broncos Choose Keenum
At 30 years of age and with only one good season to his credit, Keenum was never going to cost upwards of 25-to-28 million, like Cousins would have. Instead, Denver upgrades at quarterback and buys themselves some time to select their future cornerstone QB in this spring’s 2018 NFL draft.
That’s the caveat to this singing. Denver saved a lot of money by not signing Cousins, which can be used to help them upgrade at several positions. But most importantly, this signing makes the most sense if Denver does indeed select a rookie quarterback in the draft and attempts to groom him behind Keenum. After all, does anyone really expect Case to still be the starter in Denver more than two or three years from now?
Keenum is known as a tough-minded, gutsy leader who never gives up. He has struggled at times as a starter through stops with the Texans, Rams and Vikings. But Denver’s former coach Gary Kubiak is intimately involved in personnel decisions, and was Keenum’s first NFL head coach.
As for Cousins, as good as his credentials are, he has never won a playoff game, and hasn’t been on world-beating squads. It would have been insane to expect him to come in and hide all of Denver’s deficiencies. Instead, they get a quarterback who won a playoff game this past season and might be able to catch lightning in a bottle one or two more seasons.
Think about it – had Denver signed Cousins they wouldn’t have had enough money to finally get a third wide receiver threat behind Demaryius Thomas and Emanuel Sanders, or a stud offensive lineman to give the passing game more opportunity. With Keenum, Denver saves about 10 million a season, which is everything in a cap world.
But will it translate to wins on the field in 2018 for the Broncos? It’s way too soon to tell. Let’s see how GM John Elway spends the savings in free agency. He’s still got some work to do.
Matthew Ross is a sports commentator and a radio host on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Follow him @MatthewWords.