On April 5th, another major domino fell at the quarterback position. Former New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is now joining the Carolina Panthers in exchange for multiple draft picks. The package included a 6th round pick in 2021 as well as second and fourth-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. This is a fair deal for each side as Darnold gets a fresh start, the Jets acquire multiple picks, and the Carolina Panthers just possibly acquired their future franchise quarterback. How does this affect the Denver Broncos’ plan to address the quarterback position?
At the very least, this will probably take the Panthers out of the quarterback market in the 2021 NFL Draft, as they immediately picked up Darnold’s 5th-year option at over $18 million in 2022. It would be wise for them to add some protection for Darnold in the likes of a Rashawn Slater with the 8th overall pick.
They still could shock everyone and add a Justin Fields if he were to somehow slide down to the 8th spot, but that is highly unlikely. Trading back for the Panthers could now be an option with teams like the New England Patriots, Washington Football Team, Chicago Bears, and maybe even the Pittsburgh Steelers. Matt Rhule could be looking to add pieces to his roster that fits what he wants in his second year as a head coach.
There are still options out there for the Denver Broncos, but the list of feasible options at the quarterback position is slowly dwindling if the Broncos are looking to push Drew Lock.
First and foremost, there really are only two quarterbacks that the Broncos will have a chance on at the top of the 2021 NFL Draft. Three teams at the top of the draft are all but locked in to select three out of the top five quarterbacks in this year’s class: the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and the San Fransisco 49ers. Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are slotted to go one and two.
This leaves the Denver Broncos with the possibility of adding either Justin Fields, Mac Jones, or Trey Lance, and only two of the three will be available no matter where the Broncos are selecting.
There is also the trade route, which offers players like Gardner Minshew, Nick Foles, and Teddy Bridgewater. Alex Smith, a current NFL free agent is also an intriguing option. While Smith certainly hasn’t been brought up as much as the other options, he could be a sneaky last resort after all of the dust settles.