The Denver Broncos said several times this offseason they wanted to add competition at quarterback. They certainly weren't lying, announcing Wednesday -- a day before the start of the 2021 NFL Draft -- the acquisition of Teddy Bridgewater from the Panthers. The question now becomes: What's next? Former second-rounder and incumbent starter Drew Lock is still in tow, but the Broncos also own the No. 9 pick on Thursday, when they were widely expected to consider a top QB prospect. While Bridgewater's arrival almost certainly won't fully eliminate Denver from the market, it probably indicates the team is set under center for 2021.
In theory, the Broncos could still explore a move up from No. 9 in an effort to land one of this year's projected first-round QBs. Some, like the Denver Post's Ryan O'Halloran, actually think it's more likely the team will aggressively pursue a rookie QB, with Bridgewater in place as a bridge starter and Lock a candidate to be dealt elsewhere. The Broncos' actions earlier this offseason, like reportedly shopping Lock in trade talks with the Lions for Matthew Stafford, demand that can't be ruled out. And in the event a top QB like Trey Lance or Justin Fields falls into their lap at No. 9, well, then it's a whole new ballgame.
But if all of the team's highest-graded QB prospects are going to be gone before they're on the clock, thus requiring a move up, everything else points to Denver riding with Lock and Bridgewater, then re-evaluating in 2022.
Pick Six Newsletter
Crafted By The Best NFL Experts
Get the day's big stories + fun stuff you love like mock drafts, picks and power rankings.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
First, there's Teddy himself. Bridgewater has proven, in various stops during his journeyman ride, that he's more high-level backup than top-15 starter. And giving up a sixth-round draft pick for him hardly necessitates closing off other QB options. But remember that new Broncos general manager George Paton also has a preexisting relationship with Bridgewater, serving as the Vikings' assistant GM when Minnesota made him a first-round pick back in 2014. Does it mean much in 2021? Maybe not. But it's not nothing. Paton has already touted the "competition, experience and ... strong veteran presence" Teddy will bring to Denver.
Then there's Lock. Obviously the Broncos aren't so sold on the one-time hotshot that he's untouchable in trade talks. But much like, say, Jalen Hurts in Philadelphia -- another second-rounder who flashed in limited starting opportunities as a rookie -- he offers enough play-making ability to warrant a further look. Paton and Co. have said as much. Their actions, again, indicate they're not nearly as "high" on Lock as they say publicly, but paired with Bridgewater, the QB spot suddenly offers a much higher floor. As CBS Sports' Will Brinson notes, Teddy's arrival isn't entirely dissimilar to what the Bears did in adding Nick Foles in 2020, giving Denver the flexibility to bank on Lock's upside but invest in more stable insurance.
Does it all become moot if/when a QB they love falls within reach on Thursday? Perhaps. For now, however, the plan is in place, and it appears to include both Lock and Bridgewater -- and few other major pieces -- for at least the forthcoming season.
Who will be the first non-QB off the board? And which running back will get drafted first? Get 10 best bets and five longshot value plays on NFL Draft props from SportsLine's No. 1 NFL expert, who is 7-3 on his top five NFL Draft picks over the last two years and hit Baker Mayfield going No. 1 at 25-to-1 odds in 2018!