The defending Super Bowl champions will open the season with a quarterback who has one regular-season snap’s worth of experience.
Trevor Siemian has beaten out Mark Sanchez and first-round pick Paxton Lynch for the Denver Broncos’ starting job, the team announced on Monday. It will be Siemian against league MVP Cam Newton in a Super Bowl rematch of the Broncos and Carolina Panthers on opening night of the NFL’s regular season.
The writing appeared to be on the wall after Siemian started the team’s third preseason game and did nothing to lose the job. Sanchez’s snaps and play were in decline after a two-fumble performance in the Broncos’ second preseason game.
Siemian was the 250th overall pick in the 2015 draft and earned a Super Bowl ring as the No. 3 quarterback behind Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler. When Manning got hurt last November, Siemian was elevated to No. 2 — and earned one end-of-half kneel-down snap against the Pittsburgh Steelers late in the regular season.
The Broncos traded for Sanchez after Manning retired and Osweiler signed with the Houston Texans and was viewed as the unsexy but likely option to win the job by default. But Siemian had a solid offseason and is the cheaper option on a rookie contract for the former seventh-rounder, and he appeared to outplay Sanchez even if neither were overly impressive in preseason action.
So what happens to Sanchez? Do the Broncos release him to save the money and go into the season with two quarterbacks with minimal experience? Beyond that, how long does Siemian hold off Lynch? Based purely on production, Lynch was the most impressive QB in the exhibition season — albeit against lesser defensive talent.
Siemian has the job for now and will be the first Northwestern quarterback to start an NFL game since 1979.
But it might only be as a placeholder for Lynch, who suddenly looks like he could be worked into the mix at the first signs of trouble on offense for the Broncos.