A day after signing his contract, Case Keenum was officially introduced as a Bronco at a press conference with John Elway and Vance Joseph on Friday. (Photos by Gabriel Christus)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Three-and-a-half days before Case Keenum was introduced as the Broncos' new starting quarterback, he lay in a bed in Houston, unable to sleep.
It was just past midnight, and Keenum and his wife, Kimberly, had just heard from the Broncos during the legal-tampering period that began earlier that Monday.
They were the first team to contact him, and they came bearing good news.
He was John Elway and Co.'s first choice. And the feeling was mutual.
"I did some homework with my agents before all this started happening and we did a lot of homework on every team that was a possibility that might want a quarterback," Keenum said Friday. "Every team that we compared them to, the Denver Broncos were by far and away the best option. When they were the first team that called, my wife and I were down in Houston and our hearts both jumped.
"It was an exciting evening. When it finished up we were lying in bed around 12:30 and we didn't get much sleep after that. We stayed up all night just talking and being excited about the opportunity moving forward. It was incredible."
This sort of recruitment process was all new for Keenum, who earned a lone scholarship offer out of high school and went undrafted even after setting a bevy of collegiate records.
But after a 2017 season in which Keenum led the Vikings to an 11-3 record and an NFC Championship berth as a starter, he became the Broncos' clear-cut preference at the quarterback position.
Elway left no doubt about that Friday.
As the Broncos' President of Football Operations/General Manager introduced Keenum as the Broncos' newest quarterback, he made it quite clear that Keenum was the Broncos' plan all along at the game's most-important position.
"We looked at everybody," Elway said. "We went through the whole process. We looked at everybody that was available, as did the coaches and personnel, and we came together and had our free-agent meetings. We came out of that meeting and continued to do background on everybody [to] find out as much as we could about everybody because we weren't able to speak with them. We did as much digging as we could possibly do to find out about them as people. There is also mentality. When it came to all of that and all of the homework that we did, Case was our guy.
"There is a special fit for everybody. Obviously all of those other quarterbacks available are good players, but we thought with the year that Case had last year — but also what he had been through, and where he's been and his mentality plus having V.J. [Head Coach Vance Joseph] know him as well as Gary [Kubiak] know him and where he's been the last couple years and what he's done. Plus, the year he had last year. I think it's very arguable whether — even though [Minnesota QB] Kirk [Cousins] got a lot of the [fanfare] — who had the best year. He's won a lot of football games, and so when we all came to it, Case was the guy that we wanted."
The Broncos' new quarterback delivered that performance with a team that put him in a position to succeed — and Elway said he intends to create the same situation for Keenum in Denver.
Keenum said he already sees the foundation of "all those things that make great football teams," which include chemistry and a committed coaching staff and front office.
Those factors should aid Keenum in his attempt to replicate — and improve upon — last season's success.
And make no mistake: Even as Keenum stood with his new jersey and posed for photos with Elway and Joseph, his focus was turned toward the opportunity ahead of him.
He said Friday he's set on proving he is "a starting quarterback, [a] franchise quarterback." Though he signed a two-year contract, Keenum said he fully intends to stay in Denver a lot longer.
"We want to be here long term," Keenum said. "My wife and I love it already. We want to play the rest of my career here. There's no doubt about that."