ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Case Keenum is joining his fifth team in five years and the Denver Broncos are turning to their fifth quarterback since Peyton Manning retired 24 months ago.
General manager John Elway called Keenum ”a great fit for us” after the sixth-year pro parlayed a breakout year in Minnesota into a two-year, $36 million deal with Denver.
”Along with that experience,” Elway said, ”his leadership and competitiveness are what you look for in a quarterback.”
Elway, by the way, isn’t done looking at quarterbacks.
Elway and coach Vance Joseph were in Norman, Oklahoma, checking out Baker Mayfield’s pro day when free agency opened Wednesday. Then they were headed for Los Angeles to watch Josh Rosen’s pro day at UCLA on Thursday.
Also, a person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press the Broncos were in negotiations Wednesday to trade QB Trevor Siemian to Minnesota, where the Vikings are pursuing free agent Kirk Cousins to be their starter.
The Broncos were busy when free agency opened, keeping linebacker Todd Davis (three years, $15 million); adding cornerback Tramaine Brock (one year, $4 million); finalizing Aqib Talib’s trade to the Los Angeles Rams; and trying to move Siemian, who won the starting QB job in Denver each of the last two years.
Keenum is expected to sign his deal Thursday, giving the 30-year-old journeyman the big payday that’s long eluded him and taking the pressure off Elway to use the fifth overall pick in the draft next month on a quarterback.
It’s no guarantee, however, that Elway won’t still use that pick on a QB.
Besides Mayfield and Rosen, other high-profile fixes for franchises with quarterback quandaries such as Denver’s include Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold, Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.
Coming off a career-changing season, Keenum was widely considered the second-most attractive veteran QB on the market behind Cousins. And he is a player the Broncos know well because Gary Kubiak, now the Broncos’ senior personnel adviser, had him for two seasons while Kubiak was head coach of the Houston Texans.
”Case is perfect for our team, both as a player and as a person,” said Joseph, who also worked for the Texans. ”He’s playing the best football of his career right now and has gotten better with every opportunity he’s had. Being around him in Houston, Case is a tremendous person and teammate with strong leadership skills and a terrific work ethic. He’ll be great in our locker room.”
Keenum, who made $2 million last year, went 11-3 in place of an injured Sam Bradford, leading the Vikings to the NFC championship game.
He threw for more than 3,500 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His signature moment was that last-second 61-yard touchdown toss to Stefon Diggs that stunned the Saints 29-24 in the playoffs.
The Broncos haven’t been back to the playoffs since Manning retired following Denver’s 24-10 triumph over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 two years ago.
They’ve cycled through Mark Sanchez, Siemian, Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch, while going a combined 14-18.
The Broncos, coming off a 5-11 season, were considered an early front-runner to land Cousins. Minnesota, however, had a sparkling stadium, new state-of-the-art training facility, stacked roster and coaching stability to offer him, while the Broncos’ main magnet was Von Miller.
Even though he issued a public plea for Cousins to join him in Denver, Miller is welcoming Keenum to town .
”Looks/Feels right to me!” Miller said in an Instagram post on Tuesday. ”We got what we were looking for! Franchise QB that’s the perfect fit for DENVER! (at)johnelway with the deep 3 pointer! Like always! Leeettttss Goooo!!! (at)casekeenum7 (at)casekeenum7 Time for me to hold up my end of the deal now!”
Notes: The Broncos placed second-round tenders on two restricted free agents: C Matt Paradis and OLB Shaq Barrett. They declined to offer a tender to WR Bennie Fowler III.
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
AP Pro Football Writer Dave Campbell contributed to this report.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton