INDIANAPOLIS—Vance Joseph didn’t mention Tony Romo specifically.
In general terms, though, Joseph indicated here Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine the Denver Broncos would be checking out veteran quarterbacks who become available in free agency. Just like the Broncos will check out all players available in free agency.
Still, Joseph was given the chance to dismiss the possibility of acquiring Romo, Joseph instead chose his words carefully.
Romo would be by far the best veteran quarterback available, providing he is released by his long-time employer, the Dallas Cowboys, by the start of free agency on March 9.
Asked about his quarterback position currently occupied by Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch, Joseph responded by saying the Broncos are fully satisfied. At least until next Wednesday.
“We’re set at the moment,’’ Joseph said. “With free agency starting next week, any player that can help us moving forward, help our team get better we’re going to research and look into. But right now we’ve got two guys that we believe in.’’
Joseph essentially confirmed what 9News has been reporting for several weeks, that if the Cowboys do release Romo, the Broncos would be expected to discuss the possibility of signing him.
Let’s go a little further now. The Broncos will likely contact Romo’s representatives if he becomes available. Looking into acquiring Romo, though, and executing it, are not necessarily the same, even for Broncos general manager John Elway.
The Broncos won’t be the only team interested in Romo. If a bidding war ensues, will the Broncos keep up?
Romo turns 37 on April 21, which is old by quarterback standards not named Peyton Manning (55 touchdown passes in 2013) or Tom Brady (Super Bowl MVP in 2014 and again at age 39 in 2016). It would be a surprise if the Broncos go much past $10 million a year for three years in their contract offer.
Even if the Broncos’ proposal is loaded with rich incentives, would Romo take less to play for a team that he could lift to legitimately contending for a Super Bowl again?
Something else to consider: Ultimately, adding Romo would come at the expense of the younger Siemian and Lynch. Would the Broncos be willing to surrender one, and push the other the back a couple years?
All of these questions are premature. Speaking of which, is Lynch mature enough to assume command of the Broncos’ starting quarterback position this season?
“Is he ready? I’m not sure,’’ Joseph said. “But obviously he’s got great skills. He’s a tall man with a big arm. Is he ready? That’s a tough question. He had two starts last year. Trevor played also. It’s going to be an open competition. Whoever wins the job that’s who’s going to play. That’s as fair as it can be.’’
Joseph wasn’t with the Broncos last season when they traded up from the No. 31 overall pick to No. 26 in the first round to nab Lynch, a 6-foot-7 quarterback from Memphis who had 28 touchdown passes and just four interceptions in his junior season.
At this time last year, Joseph was the Miami Dolphins’ defensive coordinator.
Make no mistake, Lynch has a new set of coaches to impress if he is to take control of the Broncos’ offense.
“I wasn’t here when we drafted Paxton but I will tell you this, nothing’s wrong with a young quarterback sitting a couple years,’’ Joseph told 9News in a one-on-one interview with 9News. “A-Rod (Aaron Rodgers) up in Green Bay sat behind a veteran quarterback (Brett Favre) for a couple years and I think it helped him. Nothing’s wrong with that.
“When you draft these guys early they’re expected to play right away but it doesn’t make them busts. It makes them not ready.
“That being said, this is going to be a fair competition. He’s a tall guy with a big arm. He had two starts last year and showed some life in those two starts. He did some things last year to make every coach excited. Moving forward, I’m excited about both quarterbacks. They won nine games combined. That’s pretty good for two rookie quarterbacks. And they probably could have won two more.’’
Those two games were against Kansas City on Nov. 27, a 30-27 overtime loss, and at Tennessee on Dec. 11, a 13-10 loss.
Siemian started both games and played extremely well against the Chiefs, and good-if-not-good-enough-in-the-red zone against the Titans.
Despite surgery on his left, non-throwing shoulder following the season, Siemian will be ready to participate in the Broncos’ organized team activities (OTAs) in late-May, Joseph said. The competition with Lynch, though, won’t formally commence until training camp.
“The competition is going to be in the fall,’’ Joseph said. “It won’t be in the spring. The spring is going to be a learning tool to learn Mike’s system.’’
New offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will install a new offensive system that both quarterbacks should like, if not in the same way.
“The problem with Paxton and Trevor is they’re so different,’’ Joseph said. “Paxton’s a tall, big-arm guy, athletic guy. Trevor is a fundamentally sound, great footwork, great with the ball, he can really spin the ball throwing the football. They’re different, I think Mike’s challenge is finding an offense that fits both guys so they can compete equally.’’
And maybe for Romo, too? The precedent is there. Elway and then head coach John Fox lured 36-year-old Peyton Manning to give the Broncos his second chance in 2012.