The pandemic has created some crazy situations for NFL teams this year, but none of them will be crazier than what the Denver Broncos have to deal with on Sunday. For their game against New Orleans, all four of the quarterbacks on Denver's roster have been ruled ineligible for the game due to COVID-19 concerns, which means, yup, they have no quarterbacks.
With zero quarterbacks on their roster, you might be wondering why Denver just didn't simply go out and sign a free agent -- like Colin Kaepernick or literally anyone else -- and the answer to that question is that signing someone wasn't an option because that player wouldn't have been allowed to play on Sunday.
Under NFL COVID protocols that went into effect on Oct. 17, a newly acquired player has to sit out for six days before he's allowed to join his new team. For instance, if a player is signed on a Monday, that would be considered Day 1 of his six-day period. As long as the player tests negative for COVID over that span, he'd be allowed to enter his new team's facility on the sixth day.
In the Broncos' case, if they had signed a quarterback on Saturday, the absolutely earliest the player would have been allowed to practice with the team would have been the following Thursday, which means signing a free agent simply wasn't an option for the Broncos.
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The Broncos' crazy situation started on Thanksgiving after backup QB Jeff Driskel tested positive for COVID. At that point, the Broncos knew they were going to be down a man, but then the NFL threw them a curveball on Saturday when the other three quarterbacks on their roster -- Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, and Blake Bortles -- were deemed ineligible due to contact tracing concerns.
With all four quarterbacks out, the Broncos will be turning to practice squad receiver Kendall Hinton. The Broncos were so desperate for a quarterback that they actually asked the NFL if one of their assistant coaches could be signed to the active roster, but the league shot them down. Instead, the Broncos will be rolling with Hinton, who did play some quarterback during his freshman year at Wake Forest, but he hasn't really played any snaps at the position since 2015. For more on Hinton, be sure to click here.
If you're wondering why the NFL didn't move the game to Monday or Tuesday -- like the league has down with multiple other games this season -- the reason is that the Broncos didn't have an outbreak of COVID. They has an issue that was confined to one position group (quarterbacks) and the NFL has insisted all season that games will be played if there's no threat of an outbreak.
It's also possible the league decided not to give the Broncos any sort of benefit of the doubt after it was discovered the team wasn't following the NFL's COVID protocols. According to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, all four quarterbacks failed to wear masks in meetings and after Driskel tested positive, the other three quarterbacks weren't cooperative with the contact tracers from the NFL and NFLPA.