BRONCOS

How a Baker Mayfield decision could impact the Broncos’ QB quest

Mar 3, 2024, 9:45 AM

The legal tampering period preceding free agency begins March 11 … which means dominoes around the NFL will fall. And those Broncos could affect the Broncos and their quarterback quest.

One of them could be the destination for Tampa Bay quarterback Baker Mayfield, if he moves on after guiding the Bucs to an unexpected playoff run. Because, as NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah suggested during coverage of the NFL Scouting Combine on Saturday, if Mayfield jumps to the New England Patriots, the No. 3 overall pick — long expected to be used on a quarterback — would be in play.

“Can we talk fun rumors?” Jeremiah interjected to co-host Rich Eisen.

“You run into people, you talk to people, you hear theories and rumors and, ‘Hey, look out for this, look out for that.’ We’ve all assumed that Baker just goes right back to Tampa (Bay). I had somebody say, ‘Don’t sleep on the New England Patriots for Baker Mayfield.’”

That could be a game-changer.

“And if the New England Patriots are in the Baker business, then the No. 3 pick is up for sale,” Jeremiah continued. And now, the dominoes start going, and we can really have some fun.

“If all of those teams we were just talking about at 11, 12, 13, now, all of a sudden, ‘Hey, let’s call New England and see if we can’t get up there and maybe get one of the guys that are really at the top of the list.”

The Broncos pick No. 12. And the teams bracketing them — Minnesota at No. 11 and Las Vegas at No. 13 — also invested a significant portion of their 45 in-person Combine interviews on quarterbacks at or near the top of the draft.

THE IMPACT OF BAKER MAYFIELD AND HIS DECISION ON THE BRONCOS …

… could scarcely be more obvious. Because if the No. 3 pick is in play, and the Broncos identify a quarterback they want who could be available there, they could be in position to pounce.

This doesn’t mean it would be cheap.

In a mock draft posted last month just after Super Bowl LVIII, Pro Football Focus suggested that the Broncos could move up to No. 3 for a deal similar to the one San Francisco used in 2021 to work its way up to select Trey Lance. PFF suggested these terms:

  • 2024 first-round pick (No. 12 overall)
  • 2025 first-round pick
  • 2025 second-round pick
  • 2026 first-round pick

That would give the Patriots a substantial edge in evaluating the trade from a value-chart perspective. However, trades in the last generation that involve moving up for a quarterback typically extract a premium — which, in part, reflects the primacy of the position. Supply and demand matters, too. As previously noted, the Broncos would likely have competition in an attempt to move up the board.

Of course, there is the possibility the Broncos could pursue Baker Mayfield — and create the cap space to do it. But that would cause some further potential cap problems down the line. A pursuit of Mayfield and Kirk Cousins also may not align with a realistic timeline for a return to contention — especially given an AFC minefield that is flooded with top-drawer quarterbacks who give their teams a realistic annual shot at contention, along with the colossus in Kansas City that looms on Denver’s slate twice a year.

The Patriots could stand pat and take a quarterback, thus leading QB-needy teams to start burning up the lines of Arizona at No. 4, the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 5 and on down the line.

But on March 3, myriad possibilities sit in play.

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