Case Keenum may or may not have been the Broncos’ first choice – the team did hold a negotiating talk with Kirk Cousins’ agent Monday morning, although no offer was presented – but once Denver focused its attention on the former Minnesota Vikings quarterback, the advantage of saving money for other needs became obvious.
Among Broncos’ business in the past 24 hours, they attempted to trade for a right tackle, and are trying to re-sign starting inside linebacker Todd Davis after they couldn’t bring back part-time linebacker Corey Nelson. And the team did pick up the $4 million on Demaryius Thomas’ contract, as John Elway said he would do two weeks ago at the NFL Combine.
Nelson signed a one-year contract with the Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Broncos thought they were closing in on bringing back Nelson but once he got away, the team stepped up its efforts to bring back Davis.
To wit: It’s one thing to replace one of your top three inside linebackers (starter Brandon Marshall is the other), it’s another to replace two.
Davis is considered a two-down linebacker – strong against the run – while Nelson had mostly filled a third-down role – a speed player who excelled in pass coverage. Marshall has been the Broncos’ three-down linebacker who calls the defensive plays on the field. Marshall’s $5 million salary is to become fully guaranteed on Monday.
The Broncos also talked to the Dolphins about the possibility of acquiring right tackle Ja’Wuan James in a trade but were told he is staying in Miami.
All this as the free agent “soft opening” winds down while the official new league season opens at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The Broncos balked at Cousins’ bargaining starting point Monday. He wound up reaching agreement with the Minnesota Vikings on a fully-guaranteed, three-year, $84 million contract – or $28 million a year, 9News confirmed. The Broncos did not like fully guaranteeing the third year.
Whatever the Broncos’ objections, they quickly moved on to Keenum – the No. 2 QB available in the market – and reached agreement on a two-year deal worth at least $36 million – or $18 million a year – a source told 9News.
The $10 million-a-year savings will help the Broncos address other problems on their roster that was only good for a 5-11 record in 2017.