For the second straight offseason, the Broncos have made a big trade involving a quarterback. The team’s acquisition of Brady Quinn certainly isn’t as big as the Jay Cutler deal a year ago, but any time a big-name quarterback is involved, it’s news.
As far as the trade itself, the Broncos were in a low-risk, high-reward situation. It was clear that Peyton Hillis was not going to factor in as one of the top two running backs for the Broncos. Head coach Josh McDaniels said on more than one occasion last year that he does not believe in getting three running backs regular reps because he believes that adversely affects the ability for any of these running backs to get into a rhythm.
Even though many fans have clamored for Hillis to get more playing time, it didn’t happen and never was going to happen (barring injury or some unforeseen situation) with Josh McDaniels as the Broncos’ head coach. Whether or not one agrees or disagrees with that makes for a good sports talk show topic or newspaper column, but it doesn’t change the fact that McDaniels did not see Hillis as one of the top couple of running backs. Thus, Hillis was not going to get meaningful playing time on a regular basis.
In making the trade, the Broncos did not take much risk. They packaged a player picked low in the draft (Hillis was a seventh round selection in 2008) and two low future draft picks to get Quinn, who was Cleveland’s first-round selection in 2007.
In Quinn, the Broncos get a player who could have a huge impact. If he turns into the player the Browns thought they were drafting, the Broncos just pulled off one whale of a trade. Of course, if Quinn becomes just another back-up quarterback and Hillis goes crazy in Cleveland, then the Broncos will have made not only a poor trade but also a serious error in evaluating Hillis.
While I believe Hillis is a good player and has ability to offer, I like the trade. There was no reason not to make it. On the surface, they didn’t have to give up a lot. Based on the numbers being reported, the Broncos’ financial risk is low. And at the very least, they increased their talent and depth at the most crucial position on a football team.
This last point is vital. Regardless of how good his team is, NFL head coaches and general managers are always looking to find players who are better than the ones they have. Like it or not, fair or not, that is life in the NFL, period.
Right now, I believe Kyle Orton is the unquestioned starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos. But I also believe that if Brady Quinn shows he is better and convinces the coaching staff that he gives the Broncos a better chance to win than Orton does, then Quinn will be the starting quarterback.
People want to know if the Broncos were sending a message to Orton or making a statement about their confidence in him by trading for another quarterback. I think it is far simpler than that: I believe the Broncos saw an opportunity to acquire a player they believe makes them a better football team and they jumped on that opportunity.
It won’t be long before we start finding out if and how Quinn makes them better.
I know many of you have been weighing in on the deal, but feel free to share your thoughts.
Thanks for reading,