Case Keenum, who is coming off a magical, out-of-nowhere season with the Minnesota Vikings, is about to become the Denver Broncos’ new quarterback.
The Broncos and Keenum will have a short-term deal in place when free agency officially opens at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, a source confirmed to 9News.
Denver will mark Keenum’s fifth team in five years: His played with Houston in 2014, St. Louis in 2015, Los Angeles in 2016, Minnesota in 2017 and now Denver in 2018.
Talk about a journeyman. It all came together for Keenum in 2017, though, as he threw for 22 touchdowns against just seven interceptions while posting an 11-3 record as a starter for the Vikings. Keenum also threw a miracle touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs on the final play of a divisional-round playoff game to stun Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints.
As of Sunday night, a source told 9News Broncos general manager John Elway was planning to negotiate with two free-agent quarterbacks — former Washington QB Kirk Cousins, who was the consensus top prize, and Keenum, who was considered a strong No. 2 choice — when the free-agent negotiating period opened Wednesday.
But by the time the window did open, Elway had settled on Keenum. Cousins reportedly was seeking a three-year contract worth at least an NFL record $28 million a year. Keenum figured to be had for around $18 million.
One source said the Broncos had serious concerns about the contract structure and total guaranteed dollars Cousins was seeking.
Although the Broncos had serious interest in Cousins throughout the process, Elway figured his team was a long-shot to land him, with the Vikings and New York Jets the favorites.
The Vikings because they had the best team — with Keenum as their quarterback, Minnesota advanced to the NFC championship game — and the Jets because they had the most cap space.
Gary Kubiak was a strong connection between Keenum and the Broncos. Keenum was undrafted out of the University of Houston when he signed with the Kubiak-coached Texans as free agent in 2012.
“He gave me a shot,” Keenum told 9News during the NFL Honors red-carpet ceremony on the eve of Super Bowl LII. “No one in the NFL called after the draft besides the Texans. That was coach Kubiak.
“The amount of football I learned those first two years I can’t even put into words how much he’s meant to me in my career.”
Keenum went 0-8 in his first eight NFL starts for Houston in 2013 — when Kubiak was fired. In 2016, when Trevor Siemian unexpectedly beat out veteran Mark Sanchez and first-round draft pick Paxton Lynch to win the Broncos’ starting quarterback job, Elway nearly acquired Keenum in a trade from the Los Angeles Rams but backed off.
Not this time. With Keenum as their quarterback, the Broncos are expected to keep Lynch as their backup. It means the Broncos probably won’t take a quarterback with their No. 5 overall draft pick, although Elway won’t rule it out.
The expectation is the Broncos will soon try to trade Siemian.
Mike Klis reports for KUSA 9News in Denver, a TEGNA affiliate.