The Denver Broncos didn’t land Kirk Cousins in free agency, instead focusing on Case Keenum. They made the right move, saving money and heartache.
Kirk Cousins is a better quarterback than Case Keenum. Keenum also happens to be a better fit for the Denver Broncos.
Keenum, 30, is a journeyman quarterback coming off the best season of his career. Taking over for Sam Bradford in Week 2, Keenum led the Minnesota Vikings to the NFC Championship Game, throwing for 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions while totaling 3,547 yards.
By comparison, Cousins is clearly superior. The last three years have seen the Michigan State product amass at least 25 touchdown passes and 4,000 yards each season, even without starpower around him on the Washington Redskins’ offense.
So why take Keenum over Cousins? Money and place.
Denver isn’t ready to win on a meaningful level, with the roster getting old in key spots (wide receiver, defensive line) and the division getting better. The Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers are both ahead in the arms race, and while the NFL is built to have afterthoughts dreaming, the Broncos have to be realistic.
Signing Cousins to the three-year, $84 million all-guaranteed contract that Minnesota gave him would have been a death knell. Denver needs to maintain both cap flexibility and the ability to get a young franchise quarterback out of the draft.
If Cousins had come to the Mile High City, that would have been a pipe dream. No team is paying $28 million per year with the future in mind, and building a solid roster around him would have been equally unfeasible. With Keenum, Denver has competent quarterback play for the next two years, while being able to cultivate a good supporting cast that a youngster can eventually step into.
General manager John Elway has gotten plenty wrong in recent years. The drafts have been underwhelming to say the least, with Von Miller being the last Elway draft pick to reach the Pro Bowl as a member of the Broncos. Miller was drafted in 2011.
Still, credit where it’s due, and Elway gets it here. Denver didn’t need a superstar quarterback, it needed a bridge, and Keenum provided a stable one.