New NFL rumors Thursday link the Denver Broncos — who remain starved for a starting quarterback after the retirement of Peyton Manning and the loss to free agency of one-time starter-in-waiting Brock Osweiler — to Cleveland Browns veteran signal-caller Josh McCown.
The Broncos traded to acquire Mark Sanchez, but even Broncos players, it appears, have doubts that Sanchez can fill the spot vacated by Hall of Famer Manning, or even Osweiler, a promising 25-year-old with four years the league.
“Whenever you don’t have a quarterback, it’s going to impact a team,” Broncos safety T.J. Ward said in an NFL Now interview on Wednesday.
“We got to find someone back there. Right now I think we have Mark Sanchez signed and, um, he — he has some experience in this league.”
If Ward’s less-than-enthusiastic endorsement of Sanchez in any indication, the Broncos will continue looking for a quarterback who can compete with, and possibly beat out, Sanchez for the Broncos starting job in 2016.
The combination of Manning and Osweiler brought a Super Bowl championship to Denver in 2015-2016 — a moment that Broncos fans will want to relive in the highlights video below.
The name of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has fallen out of favor with his team, has been linked to a Denver trade, but another possible Broncos target, former Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, went off the market Thursday, signing a two-year deal with the Browns.
Griffin was brought in to replace the troubled Johnny Manziel, who was cut by the Browns earlier. But where does that leave McCown, especially because football experts in Cleveland believe that the Browns will look for a top quarterback in the draft next month.
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With the second overall pick in the draft, thanks to their 3-13 record in 2015, the Browns are expected to have a choice between the two top quarterback prospects in the draft, Jared Goff out of California, and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz.
That would leave the 36-year-old veteran Josh McCown without a team — again. The Arizona Cardinals third-round pick in 2002 out of Sam Houston State has gone on to play for seven NFL teams, as well as spending time on the practice squad of two others and even spending a season with the Hartford Colonials of the short-lived United Football League, a professional minor league that went out of business in 2012.
But according to a report on the NBC Sports-owned Pro Football Talk site Thursday, the Broncos may explore a move to pick up McCown.
“The Broncos have also made clear that they’re not done acquiring quarterbacks after losing Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler and trading for Mark Sanchez. McCown would have a decent shot at beating out Sanchez in a quarterback competition,” wrote PFT reporter Michael David Smith. “The question for any team interested in McCown may be whether to offer the Browns a draft pick in a trade, or to wait on the assumption that Cleveland will release him.”
Josh McCown would come cheap, as a stopgap option at starting quarterback. His contract, including a roster bonus, totals just under $5 million for 2016, a bargain by NFL standards for a starting quarterback.
Denver, however, may not be the only option for the Browns if they do choose to deal McCown. The New York Jets now appear unlikely to resign their veteran quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrck, and could also have interest in taking a shot at McCown.
A report by Rich Cimini of ESPN.com this week listed Josh McCown as the Jets’ “Number One” option, assuming that they are unable to come to terms with the 33-year-old Fitzpatrick, who football experts believe may be overrating his own value in the current market.
Finished Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2015 deep ball. The best thing I can say about it is Fitzpatrick went to Harvard. pic.twitter.com/VN0IX5WDmv
— Deep Ball Wall=Done (@Brickwallblitz) March 14, 2016
A trade for Colin Kaepernick could also be an option for the Jets, and if the 49ers quarterback does head to New York, the Denver Broncos may be left with few viable options outside of a trade for Josh McCown.
[Photo By Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]