For all the crap I'm about to talk about John Elway as an executive, let's not forget he did a lot of good for the Broncos as their President/GM, leading the franchise back to relevance, acquiring Peyton Manning in free agency and putting together a roster than won the Super Bowl in 2015.
That being said, he also made some of the most boneheaded decisions evaluating the position he was so successful at as a player. It appears Elway's final flop will be Drew Lock.
After new Broncos GM George Paton, who took over for Elway this offseason, signed journeyman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the assumption was Lock would still win the starting job that was handed to him last year and be pushed by Bridgewater to take a step forward in his career. No such luck.
Not only has Bridgewater outperformed Lock in the preseason, he's also apparently got the inside edge to the starting job. Broncos insider Mike Klis believes so and if there's someone I'm going to listen to on that beat it's Klis.
If Bridgewater does indeed beat out an incumbent starter who the Broncos spent a second-round pick on in 2019, this will be the latest in a long line of mistakes Denver made at quarterback. All those mistakes can be tied back to Elway.
Since Manning retired in 2016, the Broncos have featured a revolving door at quarterback highlighted by wasted draft picks on the position, bad trades and head-scratching free agent moves -- basically the trifecta of quarterback failures. Nothing will hold a candle to Elway selecting Paxton Lynch, a player who is not even in the league anymore, in the first round of the 2016 draft, but the list of quarterbacks Elway handed the reigns of the team to is a who's who of bad players.
It's not Trevor Siemian's fault that he earned the starting job over Lynch in 2016, but Elway did draft Siemian and he was about as good as you'd expect any seventh rounder to be. That Elway didn't have a better quarterback on a team coming off a Super Bowl win is pretty baffling in general. But that's who he rolled out there to replace Manning.
After that, Siemian, Lynch and none other than another Elway second-round pick, Brock Osweiler, battled it out for the starting job in 2017. All got a chance. All sucked. Especially Lynch. And again, the Broncos failed to win.
(Also just want to point out here Elway picked Brock Osweiler in 2012 to be Manning's successor. Let's not forget that.)
Elway gave Case Keenum a two-year, $36 million contract in 2018 to fix the mess he created, but that was like putting a Band-Aid on a gushing, open artery. Should have gone with stitches there.
Perhaps the most perplexing move was Elway trading a fourth-round pick for a washed-up Joe Flacco in 2019. It made no sense then and made even less sense when Flacco was replaced by Lock midway through that season.
Which brings us back to Lock. He has created almost as many turnovers (22) as touchdowns (26) in two years in the league. Yet he carries himself with the arrogance of someone who has accomplished more than Tom Brady. It is clear Lock is no Brady. Hell, apparently he's not even better than Bridgewater. Regardless, this was Elway's guy, a gunslinger with bravado and a big arm, who also happens to be inaccurate and turnover prone.
It's unclear what this all means for Lock's future in Denver or the NFL. Losing a quarterback battle in year three of your career isn't a death sentence. For the right person, it could be an eye-opener.
But assuming Lock isn't named the starter and doesn't play much more with the Broncos, he will be the final reminder of Elway's ineptitude at finding a quarterback after Peyton Manning. That doesn't mean Elways wasn't good in other areas as a GM. It just means he wasn't good at the most important part of that role, and Lock is but one final reminder of that fact.