In quite possibly the most preposterous situation of an NFL season full of them, the Denver Broncos are set to play the New Orleans Saints on Sunday with no quarterbacks on their active roster.
Backup quarterback Jeff Driskel was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday, and will now be joined by the rest of the team’s quarterback depth chart. Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles were all ruled ineligible on Saturday due to contact tracing, the team confirmed.
The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones reported that the three remaining quarterbacks were not forthcoming during contact tracing interviews about their exposure, spent extensive time together without masks and didn’t consistently wear their tracking devices.
Not having a quarterback would represent quite the handicap for the Broncos, who will reportedly not be forfeiting the game.
Who is playing QB for Broncos?
Mike Klis of Denver’s 9News initially speculated that the team could call upon backup running back Royce Freeman to start under center against New Orleans.
Per source: Broncos game vs. Saints is still on, but all 3 QBs in real trouble. Lock/Rypien/Bortles may not been cleared for game. More coming. RB Royce Freeman may be up as starting QB. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) November 28, 2020
However, practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton, who played quarterback at Wake Forest, soon emerged as another possibility. Hinton worked as a quarterback for nearly his entire college career and was projected to start as a senior, but a suspension spoiled those plans. Hinton later signed with the Broncos as a wide receiver after going undrafted in 2020.
Freeman has reportedly been the Broncos’ emergency quarterback this season, but a promotion to the active roster could give Hinton the job.
KOA NewsRadio’s Benjamin Allbright later tweeted that Hinton is more likely to receive the call.
Per team source: Looking more and more like former Wake QB and current Broncos PS WRKendall Hinton will be Broncos QB tomorrow and NOT Royce Freeman per league source.
— Benjamin Allbright (@AllbrightNFL) November 28, 2020
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport then reported Hinton will see plenty of time at quarterback on Sunday, though stopped short of calling him the starter,
#Broncos WR Kendall Hinton will play plenty at QB tomorrow, source said. 2020! He did play QB for a few years at Wake Forest.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 28, 2020
Rookie wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and linebackers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb even joked about the situation. At least, we think they were joking.
Guess ima have to get my Lamar Jackson on
— Jerry Jeudy⁴ (@jerryjeudy) November 28, 2020
Why Colin Kaepernick, etc. aren’t walking through that door
In normal times, a team having its entire quarterback depth chart wiped out the day before a game would mean a frantic scramble to sign a quarterback off the street, but these aren’t normal times.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, NFL rules dictate that any newly signed player must go through a six-day entry testing process before he can start practicing with a team.
So, while suggestions of Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow are fun, signing any quarterback outside the Broncos’ organization is impossible.
Above all, no matter who gets the start as the Broncos’ “quarterback,” get ready for things to get weird on Sunday.
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