The Denver Broncos reportedly could remain in the market for a quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft, which starts Thursday night, despite trading a sixth-round pick to the Carolina Panthers to acquire veteran signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater on Wednesday.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported details of the deal and the Broncos' plans:
Denver, which owns the No. 9 overall pick in the draft, currently has four quarterbacks on its roster: Bridgewater, incumbent starter Drew Lock, Jeff Driskel and Brett Rypien.
The Broncos still have little long-term certainty at the NFL's most important position, though. Bridgewater and Driskel are unrestricted free agents after the 2021 season, Rypien will be a restricted free agent next offseason and Lock has two years left on his deal.
Lock looked like a potential solution with some promising performances late in his 2019 rookie campaign, highlighted by a three-touchdown game in a win over the Houston Texans, but he struggled in 2020 with 16 TDs and 15 interceptions.
Bridgewater figures to compete with Lock for the starting job should the depth chart remain the same, but it sounds like a quarterback remains a possibility at No. 9 despite the predraft deal.
It's hard to forecast which of the top QB prospects, if any, will be available by the time Denver is on the clock.
Clemson's Trevor Lawrence is a virtual lock to go first to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and BYU's Zach Wilson is the expected choice of the New York Jets at No. 2.
The San Francisco 49ers are likely to take a quarterback at No. 3, and now the Panthers at No. 8 are firmly in the market for a field general despite the acquisition of Sam Darnold earlier in the offseason. The Atlanta Falcons (No. 4) may also seek an heir apparent for Matt Ryan.
Add in the possibility of teams trading up and there's no guarantee any of those five coveted quarterbacks will still be an option for the Broncos at the back end of the top 10.
If Denver goes a different direction in the first round, perhaps a prospect to help a defense that ranked 21st in yards allowed last season, a quarterback is a definite possibility in the middle rounds.