Over the course of the last five months, the Denver Broncos have been connected to just about every quarterback over the course of the 2021 offseason. Starting with Matthew Stafford, incumbent starter Drew Lock has had to shelter himself from one rumor and Twitter troll after the next, and apparently, that hasn’t been difficult for him.
From Stafford to Deshaun Watson, the 2021 NFL Draft class to league MVP Aaron Rodgers, it’s clear that the media will leave no stone unturned when it comes to thinking up alternatives to the Denver Broncos’ incumbent starting quarterback if that player himself is not playing at a Pro Bowl level.
Ultimately, the Denver Broncos waited in the weeds until the day before the 2021 NFL Draft before getting Teddy Bridgewater for a mere 6th-round draft pick and a reduced salary to compete with Drew Lock.
Until new general manager George Paton goes out and actually pulls the trigger on a trade for someone like Rodgers or Watson, the current state of the quarterback room speaks volumes to what the team actually thinks of Lock.
Of course, Lock has an advocate in the front office still in John Elway, who is no longer the general manager but has been a “resource” and “sounding board” for Paton in his first year on the job. Lock also has an entire coaching staff and group of teammates that understand what he went through in 2020 as a first-year starter at the quarterback position was completely abnormal for what just about anyone else goes through.
Many will point to the success of Justin Herbert and others amid the pandemic in 2020 as reasons why Drew Lock’s struggles should be pronounced, not necessarily excused or given a pass. With that in mind, Herbert also joined an offense that was previously established with a bunch of players who knew what they were doing in the offense compared to the Broncos’ offense which was littered with youth and depleting injuries.
Regardless if you want to call them excuses or valid reasons for Lock playing poorly in the 2020 season, he knows and everyone in the Denver Broncos organization knows he has to be better. Lock noted in his press conference — which had a very motivated vibe — that he put together an offseason work schedule that he may one day “write a book” about.
Lock was able to spend time with Hall of Famer Peyton Manning throughout the offseason, watching film and getting tips on technique which many have noted through Denver Broncos practice videos with Lock taking an even-footed stance out of the shotgun just like Manning used to.
Lock said that no matter what happened, his mindset about this offseason wasn’t going to change. He said he had “zero time” to listen to anything anyone was saying from the outside about him or the team bringing players in.
In response to specifically the ongoing Aaron Rodgers trade rumors, Lock said:
"No, we had a great practice today. Dove into the script that we had for the last couple days getting ready for this. I was happy with the way we played out there and that was my number one concern was how I was going to go out and play. Just 7-on-7 stuff we had today…I know that was it we didn’t have full team but we did 7-on-7 and that was my biggest thing and that was my focus the last couple weeks.Drew Lock via Broncos PR"
Of course, there’s only so much Lock can really tune out. He said that his dad would give him a heads up when one of his teammates publicly went to bat for him, which we’ve seen throughout the offseason from veteran leaders like Shelby Harris, Tim Patrick, and Courtland Sutton.
Lock’s work habits this offseason have impressed his teammates, and with restrictions across the country basically lifted, Lock’s grind was pretty well uninterrupted.
Although there is going to be a competition for the starting job with Teddy Bridgewater, Lock is finally getting a normal offseason, something he hasn’t really had in the NFL. As a rookie, he had to defer to veteran Joe Flacco and earn his stripes out there. As a second-year player, everything was basically handed to Lock in terms of his job, but the chaos of the season ate him alive, at least early on.
Through it all, Lock showed tremendous upside with some big games down the stretch of the 2020 season including a very strong performance in the regular season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders in Denver.
The 2021 offseason theme for Lock is clearly about controlling what he can control. He’s had to tune out what left tackle Garett Bolles called flat-out hatred from others, and in the meantime get out on the field and do his job well enough to beat out a pretty solid veteran in Teddy Bridgewater.
Barring a blockbuster trade for Aaron Rodgers, it really feels like Drew Lock is going to enter the 2021 season as the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback if all goes well. The team is clearly hoping so as they only have Bridgewater under contract for a year and they passed on the entire crop of 2021 NFL Draft prospects.
The Denver Broncos have a rich history of developing undrafted players. Which players in their 2021 class have a chance to make it?
George Paton bought into Lock’s upside despite his struggles. Unless what could only be described as a historic trade goes down, it seems like Lock tuning out the noise and trade rumors will work out just fine for him.