Jan 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Case Keenum (7) celebrates a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Divisional Playoff football game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In a good old fashioned late-night news dump, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that quarterback Case Keenum intends to sign with the Denver Broncos (5-11 in 2017) when free agency officially begins on Wednesday.

Broncos beat writer Mike Klis of 9News confirms the report, and adds that it’s expected to be a short-term deal.


The Broncos entered the offseason as the favorites to sign quarterback Kirk Cousins, but the potentially record-breaking contract of demands for Cousins led the Broncos to move aggressively on Keenum. Klis adds that it “does not appear the Broncos made a serious run” at Cousins.


Broncos senior personnel advisor Gary Kubiak (coached Keenum in 2012 and 2013 with the Texans) “was deep in Keenum’s corner in the process,” according to Yahoo! Sports’ Charles Robinson:

It’s hard to fully evaluate the move until we get the contract details, but it appears to be a short-term deal (likely 1-to-3 years), and it’s been reported that Keenum was looking for $16-$18 million annually. That would definitely make sense when you consider the rising salary cap and recent quarterback contracts.

For example, Mike Glennon signed a three-year, $45 million contract ($18.5 million guaranteed) with the Chicago Bears last offseason (and has already been cut). And — putting aside that everyone agreed Glennon was overpaid at the time — we can all agree that Keenum is at least a level up from Glennon at the time of the signings.

But just exactly how good is Keenum?

No one can answer that (or at least confidently and reasonably). Not even the Minnesota Vikings, the team Keenum just led to the NFC Championship Game and had an 11-3 regular-season record with. It’s hard to say how much of that success was thanks to Keenum, and how much it was thanks to his supporting cast and the Minnesota coaching staff.

In 2017, Keenum threw 22 touchdown passes compared to only seven interceptions, and had a 98.3 passer rating, the seventh-best mark in the NFL (and ahead of QBs such as Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, Ben Roethlisberger, and Matt Ryan).

But he also had one of the league’s best receiving corps, led by Adam Thielen (91/1276/4), Stefon Diggs (64/849/8), and Kyle Rudolph (57/532/8). He had excellent play-calling from offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, the new head coach of the New York Giants.

There’s no doubt Keenum did an outstanding job and played much smarter football than he did in his previous four seasons, but it’s just hard to really conclude how much of the production and team success was his doing, and how to project his performance going forward.

Keenum is now 30 years old, and was a mediocre-to-bad quarterback for his entire career, until last season. In 2016 with Rams, he threw 9 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, had five fumbles, and a 76.4 QB rating. He’s probably quite a bit better than that quarterback now, but just how much? Odds are he’s somewhere in between that guy and the quarterback that performed at an elite level in 2017.

In an article Monday night on Keenum’s intentions to sign with the Broncos, ESPN’s Jeff Legwold wrote that Broncos general manager John Elway “made finding a long-term solution at quarterback the priority of the offseason”

Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway had made finding a long-term solution at quarterback the priority of the offseason after the Broncos limped to a 5-11 finish in 2017 with an offense that finished the year tied for 26th in scoring.

Well, they still need that long-term solution.

Maybe Keenum’s 2017 season was for real, but Elway shouldn’t approach the rest of the offseason with that assumption. Elway should attack the draft with the thinking that Keenum is a fine bridge quarterback, but quarterback should absolutely still be in play for the Broncos with the No. 5 overall pick.

UPDATE: Pro Football Talk is hearing that Keenum’s deal will be $18-$20 million annually. So, that’s a lot.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.