John Elway might find himself in the market for a veteran backup quarterback soon, yet there’s one man who won’t be getting a call: Colin Kaepernick .
“Colin had his chance to be here,” Elway said Thursday when asked if the former San Francisco 49ers QB would be an option if he decides Case Keenum’s backup isn’t already on Denver’s roster.
“We offered him a contract. He didn’t take it,” Elway said. “And as I said at my deposition (in Kaepernick’s collusion lawsuit against the NFL) — and I don’t know if I’m legally able to say this — but he’s had his chance to be here. He passed.”
Kaepernick declined to take a pay cut from his $11.9 million salary to facilitate a trade to the Broncos in 2016 following Peyton Manning’s retirement.
Unable to get a discount from Kaepernick or a rebate from the 49ers, Elway moved up in the draft to select former Memphis QB Paxton Lynch in the first round of the draft that spring.
Lynch has been a flop and this week was demoted to third string behind Chad Kelly, last year’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” who missed his rookie season while recovering from knee and wrist surgeries.
Kaepernick contends he’s no longer in the NFL because he’s the one who started the protests during the national anthem that have engulfed the league ever since. At first he sat down, then later took a knee during “The Star-Spangled Banner” to highlight social injustices against minorities.
Several players joined in, and President Donald Trump criticized them for disrespecting the flag and U.S. military by not standing during the anthem.
Lynch was beaten out in 2016 and `17 by seventh-round QB Trevor Siemian, who was traded to Minnesota in the offseason following Keenum’s free agent signing. Elway declared the backup job up for grabs between Lynch and Kelly.
Lynch was demoted after failing to read defenses correctly and throwing for just 24 yards in seven series in Denver’s preseason opener against the Vikings.
Kelly threw for 177 yards and two TDs in mop-up duty, but that was his first game in more than 640 days. And he’s had a tougher time this week while running with the second string against the Bears’ backups in joint practices at the UC Health Center .
Kelly will get a long look Saturday night against Chicago as Elway determines whether he can trust him to step in and win games if necessary.
What he’s looking for in a backup QB is a guy “who has the experience and the ability to come in and help you win a football game,” Elway said. “It’s a different quality because you have to be ready all the time, and mentally be ready all the time and you don’t get a chance to play all the time.
“And as hard as it is to find a starter, it’s just as hard to find a guy that can back up. And so, we’re always looking for those.”
If Elway doesn’t feel comfortable with Kelly as his backup, he could sign a free agent next week who isn’t in anyone’s camp or wait for final cuts on Sept. 1 for more options.
“We’ll wait through this week and see what happens,” Elway said. “I feel like we still have time.”
Elway said he’s been pleased with Keenum, save for his pair of three-and-outs in the preseason opener.
“I was hoping to get off to a better start than we had the first week in the preseason,” Elway said. “But it’s been a good week of practice and Case has had a good camp. So, hopefully we dig in a little bit more this week and get off to a better start.”
And he’s hoping Kelly provides a better performance with the second string than Lynch did.
Elway might soon have to cut the man he once thought was his next franchise quarterback.
“We haven’t played two preseason games yet,” Elway said, “so I’m not going to get into hypotheticals.”
Browns hosting former Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant’s getting to know the Browns better and vice versa.
The three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver is visiting the team’s headquarters in Berea, Ohio, on Thursday and there’s a chance the meeting could lead to Bryant signing with Cleveland.
Before meeting with team officials, Bryant posted a photo on Twitter signing autographs at Cleveland’s airport. Later, he stopped in the studio of the team’s in-house radio show and gave an on-air update of his stopover.
“I’m happy to be here, you know excited, you know just trying to work out some things,” Bryant said. “It’s a lovely place.”
The 29-year-old was released by the Dallas Cowboys after eight seasons in April and has been waiting to latch on with another team. He turned down a three-year contract offer from the Baltimore Ravens, who may still have interest in him.
The Browns have plenty of room under the salary cap to offer Bryant a multi-year deal. However, the team may opt to sign him to a short-term contract. The Browns also must decide if they’re ready to take on a player who clashed with Cowboys coaches.
Last week, general manager John Dorsey, who has been looking for more receiving help because of the uncertainty surrounding troubled star Josh Gordon, said he had been trying to contact Bryant with no success. Gordon is away from the team to work on his health.
After Dorsey reached out to Bryant through the media, Bryant posted on Twitter that he intended to visit the Browns.
“For real . I wouldn’t mind playing for the browns I just want to be right first,” Bryant wrote.
Several Cleveland players, including starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor and receiver Jarvis Landry, have expressed they would love Bryant to join them.
“That would be awesome,” Taylor said following Cleveland’s exhibition opener. “We know what type of talent Dez brings to the football field. He’s been a very, very good player in his time throughout this league, and he adds talent to the wide receiver room. I hope it can get done, but that’s up to management. I definitely think he could help this team.”
Landry, who is close to Bryant, said this week he would love to be teammates with him.
“We’re just trying to figure out if he wants to be here,” Landry said. “Then obviously we’re open arms, and we’d love to have him. He’d be a great addition to our team and our offense for sure. You look at the plays he’s making down the field, underneath. He can really do it all, given the opportunities.”
Bryant has been one of the NFL’s top deep threats for years. He has amassed 531 catches for 7,459 yards and 73 touchdowns.
Last season, Bryant caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns.