DENVER — For now.
That is how general manager John Elway articulated Case Keenum's status as the Broncos starting quarterback following the season. It represented a lukewarm endorsement of Keenum, who in his first season with Denver after signing a two-year, contract with $25 million guaranteed, posted a 6-10 record with 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
The Broncos are keeping an open mind about their offense and quarterback going forward, which explains why they moved on from Gary Kubiak -- give new coach Vic Fangio credit for wanting college concepts and a different offensive line coach -- and will consider a replacement at the most important position on the field. Does that mean the Broncos will draft a quarterback with the 10th overall pick? It suggests it cannot be ruled out, especially after the Broncos scouted the likes of Missouri's Drew Lock last season and walked away impressed. They could go young or dip into the free agent or trade market.
Here's the sobering issue for the Broncos. Only one drafted quarterback has won a postseason game in franchise history: Tim Tebow. The other quarterbacks to post playoff victories: Craig Morton, Elway, Jake Plummer and Peyton Manning.
A concrete solution is needed in the next few years to counter the AFC West arms of Patrick Mahomes, the likely NFL MVP, Philip Rivers and Derek Carr.
Elway drove home the point in an interview with NBC Sports' Peter King.
"Obviously, we’ve got to -- Case is probably a short-term fix -- find the long-term guy for us. When we do find that guy, we’ve got to have the continuity on the offensive side to where we can train him and develop him and get him there. This is our fourth offense in probably three or four years. Quarterbacks need to be developed. You don’t find one ready-made," Elway said. "We got to have a solid system in place for when we do go after whatever guy it may be, a young guy or a trade or whatnot."
Keenum is not solely to blame for an underwhelming performance. But the juxtaposition between the Broncos and the remaining playoff teams, who all rank in the top 4 in offense, is jarring. The Broncos ranked 24th in points (20.6), 19th in yards (350.1), passing (230.9) and red zone percentage (56.8), 12th in rushing (119.2) and 28th in third-down conversions (33.3 percent). It's no wonder Fangio wants to introduce run-pass-option concepts and more creativity. He has spent the past 32 seasons attempting to stop offenses, 19 as a coordinator, so he understands what induces fits.
Regarding Fangio's staff, the Broncos have not given up on receiving permission to speak with 49ers quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello. And they believe there is a strong possibility they will land Mike Munchak as their offensive line coach, which would be a tremendous boost given that Munchak is regarded as one of the NFL's best. As for defensive coordinator, Ed Donatell remains a possibility. Fangio, however, will run the defense.
Kubiak is still employed with the Broncos in a front-office role. He helped with the draft, evaluating top prospects, and with advance reports. His desire, it appears, is to continue coaching and he has attracted interested from the Vikings and Jaguars, per multiple reports.