But there are questions behind him.
After being booed off the field in his home stadium last week, 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch has been demoted to third-string, and 2017 seventh-round pick Chad Kelly, who has yet to play a regular-season snap, was promoted to backup.
If Keenum goes down, is Kelly really the answer? Broncos fans are wondering, and general manager John Elway was asked about the No. 2 spot on Thursday.
‘He had his chance to be here’
When asked, Elway said, “I still feel like we have time” to figure out the team’s backup spot.
As a follow-up, Nicki Jhabvala, who covers the team for The Athletic, asked Elway about the possibility of signing free agent Colin Kaepernick.
Elway’s answer was … interesting. And assumes no one has Google.
“Well, you know what and I said this a while ago, Colin had his chance to be here,” Elway said. “We offered him a contract. He didn’t take it. And I said in my deposition, and I don’t know legally if I’m able to say this, but he had his chance to be here. He passed it.”
Jhabvala responded to a query on Twitter about whether Elway was talking about 2016, when he was in talks with San Francisco to acquire Kaepernick in a trade, or maybe 2017 or ’18, meaning the Broncos had circled back to Kaepernick after he became a free agent. Jhabvala said 2016.
Wanted Kaepernick to take a huge pay cut
Kaepernick, did in fact have a chance to join Denver in during the 2016 offseason; the Niners and Broncos talked for a couple of weeks about a trade, and reportedly settled on the parameters of the deal.
But the major sticking point, and what Elway is hoping you’ve forgotten, is that he wanted Kaepernick to either take a massive pay cut or for the 49ers to offset his pay.
Via an April 2016 story on NBCSports Bay Area, Kaepernick was slated to earn a guaranteed base salary of $11.9 million from San Francisco in 2016; Elway wouldn’t pay more than $7 million, a 41 percent cut in pay – and wanted Kaepernick to be the starter.
It didn’t get better after ’16. Denver wanted Kaepernick to agree to $7 million base again for 2017. Had he agreed to the deal, he would have walked away from $12.4 million in base salary and as much as $16.2 million over those two years.
Not only was it sound for Kaepernick to say no (he did reportedly agree to a smaller pay cut, but the Broncos wouldn’t budge), especially since solid veteran backups can make $7 million a season, let alone starters, he would have been setting a bad precedent for other players and with the union.
Kaepernick wound up earning around $14 million in 2016 with salary plus bonuses, roughly equal to what Denver wanted to pay him for two seasons.
This was a few weeks after the Broncos had offered Brock Osweiler a three-year, $49.5 million contract with $30 million guaranteed to remain with Denver. Osweiler spurned Elway and the Broncos to take a larger deal with Houston, yet was still welcomed back last year when the team needed a quarterback and was terrible.
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