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John Elway: 'All options' on table at quarterback

INDIANAPOLIS --Will the Broncos find their quarterback of the future in free agency or the draft? At this point, the possibilities are wide open, although President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway wants to "explore all options in free agency and see where that goes," he said Thursday.

"All options" include any quarterback not under contract for the 2018 season, Elway said, adding that he is comfortable that the team has enough salary-cap space to sign any quarterback.

"Believe me, I'm not done swinging and missing," Elway said, laughing. "Misses don't bother me. We just have to figure out a way to get it right. That is what we are working on."

Denver's options are not necessarily limited to free agency or the No. 5 pick; the Broncos are "open for business" to trading that selection -- "depending on how things fall," Elway said.

"Obviously we've got the fifth pick in the draft, too," he said. "That will all play into it. We'll continue to look at all of the options out there when it comes to quarterback."

If the Broncos' 2018 starter is a veteran free-agent pickup, they won't have to worry about his readiness for action. If it is a rookie, he has to be "the right kind of guy," Elway said.

"Until we really get to know them and get around them a little bit more, it's hard to say," he said. "With what I went through [as a rookie in 1983], if you go young, throw them out there and get them going."

The NFL Combine offers Elway and the Broncos a chance to learn more about some of the top quarterbacks in this year's class. Elway said the Broncos plan to use one of their 60 formal interviews at the Combine on UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.

He added that he expected the Broncos to extend Rosen one of the 30 invitations permitted by the NFL for in-person meetings at team headquarters.

"He can throw it," Elway said. "Arm-talent-wise, he can throw it as good as anybody. He's a competitor, and the bottom line is that you've got to have confidence to play that position, so if he's overconfident, that's not bad."

Elway said he's heard the chatter about Rosen's demeanor, but he wants to judge for himself.

"I'm looking forward to drawing my own conclusion, because I've heard so many different things about all the different quarterbacks," Elway sad.

Elway also said the team will "probably" use another of its 30 invitations on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who the Broncos coached in the Senior Bowl in January. Elway said he plans to ask Mayfield questions about some of his off-field issues when he meets with him.

"I saw him at the Senior Bowl, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him. We'll get some time to spend with him and we'll probably have him to the complex for one of our 30 visits to get a chance to know him and kind of ask those questions.

"What I've seen is obviously there are some things that he'd admit that he'd want to take back. A lot of times you get tied up in the emotions of the situation and where he is. I like to see a guy with that kind of passion."

Elway also isn't concerned about any stigma revolving around Mayfield's 6-foot frame.

"I think that [stigma] has been broken. You've got [Saints QB] Drew Brees -- he's proven that you can do it," Elway said. "[Mayfield] is obviously very much a competitor. He's had a great college career and won the Heisman Trophy. He's proved he can play."

And whether the Broncos add a quarterback through the draft, free agency or both avenues, 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch could be a backup this season and continue his development, Elway said.

"Bottom line is, we need more than one, right?" Elway said. "So we're going to try to get as many good ones as we can, and we've got control of Paxton; he's under contract.

"I still think Paxton has got the ability to have a great career in this league. So by no means are we kicking him to the curb."



Elway said he wants to bring back center Matt Paradis and outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, but with both set to become restricted free agents, the Broncos have a tricky task of giving them a contract tender at a level that is enough to prevent heavy interest from other teams.

"It's important to find out where that is, because we'd like to have them both back," Elway said. "Putting the right number on them is important."

Inside linebacker Todd Davis is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and while Elway hopes that Davis returns for a fifth Broncos season, Elway acknowledged that Davis may want to test the market.

"We'd like to [re-sign Davis], but a lot of times the players want to see the market and see where they fall there, too," Elway said.


Elway and other members of the Competition Committee met prior to the Combine to discuss potential rules tweaks -- including one to the wording of what defines a catch in the wake of controversial interpretations last year. He expects that the concept of completing a catch all the way to the ground will be scrapped.

"I think it will be much simpler and I think everybody will understand what a catch is and what it isn't. Everything that we've covered so far is going to be much better," he said.

"Go back to what the old definition of what a catch was: Two feet down, control, move, and then you've got a catch. That's what it's going to be like."

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