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Questions surrounding Broncos' quarterbacks, Elway's contract as camp approaches

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Posted at 7:43 PM, Jul 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 21:55:10-04

DENVER -- Co-hosting a radio show can be intoxicating. For starters, it involves zero cameras, never a bad thing. And the reaction from the public is overwhelming. More people discuss my appearances on 104.3 The Fan than anything else I do. This week two electric topics dominated the conversation: the quarterback uncertainty and John Elway's contract status.

Let's start with Elway. In talking to multiple sources Wednesday, the status remains unchanged. There remains no discord. The sides are in a decent place, and the belief exists that a deal will be completed. 

Ideally, the Broncos announce a contract extension for Elway a week from today at the annual media barbecue. He is under contract until March. I love that Elway treats his own negotiations like every other football part of his life. He remains comfortable taking it to the two-minute warning. He did it better than anyone else as a quarterback, has pulled it off in contract talks (see Miller, Von) and appears prepared to slow play his own deal. Again, the sides have talked. 

It is complicated because how do you assign monetary value to Elway? He possesses the most unique status of any NFL GM given his profile in Denver. He has earned the right to become the league's highest-paid GM. Seattle's John Schneider and Baltimore's Ozzie Newsome reportedly sit atop the list at roughly $3.75 million annually. In absence of any title change, can the Broncos create salary escalators based on the team's performance? The term of the contract matters, too. How long does Elway want to steer the wheel? He revived the franchise and has guided the Broncos to five playoff berths, two Super Bowl appearances and one championship in six seasons. 

And what about an ownership stake for Elway? Or putting together an ownership group? Nothing seems off the table with the Broncos legend, but the team's placement in a family trust creates wrinkles. Pat Bowlen owns the team. However, as outlined by The Denver Post, the Broncos have been placed in a family trust operated by three trustees: team legal counsel Rich Slivka, local attorney Mary Kelly and team CEO Joe Ellis. Bowlen created the trust to forge a path for one of his seven children to take over controlling ownership. The trust is appointed authority to choose a child. The NFL has not created a hard deadline for succession. The trust also can be used to sell the team. Again, it's messy. Though one thing remains clear: the Broncos want Elway as GM. Elway has said repeatedly he wants to stay in Denver. With both sides motivated, a deal seems likely, even if the timing is uncertain.

The calendar also connects to the quarterbacks. How long into training camp will it take before coach Vance Joseph sees his desired, "clear separation?" The receivers prefer it happen in the first week. That seems ambitious. A decision after the second preseason game -- which would include joint practices against the San Francisco 49ers -- is certainly realistic, if not likely. 

Trevor Siemian, by all accounts, began the offseason in the lead. Paxton Lynch closed the gap in April, May and June. Siemian, as I see it, needs to take more chances, grab the position by the nape of the neck and show he should have been anointed all along. Lynch needs to keep making plays, even some with his feet, and find adequate comfort level on passes in the middle of the field. I believe Siemian will be more aggressive in camp. I have no doubt Lynch will throw the deep ball. It is delicious and ironic. If Siemian shows more of Lynch's skillset he wins the job. And if Lynch can demonstrate more of Siemian's traits, he could snatch it away.

Two quarterbacks. One team. One goal of returning to the playoffs. For it to be realized, the Broncos need more answers and less uncertainty at the game's most important imposition.