Broncos Mailbag: Should any player be off-limits in pursuit of Deshaun Watson? – The Denver Post

Denver Post Broncos writer Ryan O’Halloran posts his Broncos Mailbag weekly during the season. Submit questions to Ryan here.

Everyone’s talking about Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson. If he’s available to the Broncos, is there anyone who is off-limits for a trade? Could three first-rounders and Drew Lock sway Houston into giving him to the Broncos?
— Marshall, Parker

I wouldn’t put anything past the dysfunctional Texans, so let’s have fun with a Watson trade.

1. What will the Texans want — draft picks, players or a combination of both?

2. Are the Texans willing to deal Watson within the AFC? Houston may be so desperate to get what it deems fair value for Watson, any team outside their division could be in play.

3. Watson has a no-trade clause so would he want to play for the Broncos, they of five consecutive years out of the playoffs? This is where general manager George Paton, coach Vic Fangio, etc., would have to convince Watson the franchise is on the right track.

4. How do the Broncos meet the Texans’ asking price without compromising Watson’s chances at success? They can’t give up the figurative farm only to see him get battered like he has been with Houston.

Should any Broncos player be untouchable if the return is Watson? I went back and forth on this and concluded that any player should be available.

If I had to name five players who shouldn’t be traded because they would help Watson, I would go with outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, left tackle Garett Bolles, safety Justin Simmons (if he signs a long-term deal) and receivers Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy.

The Texans have Laremy Tunsil at left tackle so they may not ask for Bolles. But would a package of Chubb, one other player and two first-round picks get the deal done? Houston would have to consider it.

Do you see similarities between Drew Lock and Jay Cutler? I certainly do. They both are late with throws and throw off their back foot a ton. Both are gifted with big, strong arms, but they rely on it too much. In terms of the draft, I think a lot of people are sleeping on Mac Jones. What are your thoughts on him with the No. 9 pick because I don’t see him getting past New England at No. 15?
— LaMar Elliott, La Quinta, Calif.

I wasn’t around for Cutler’s time with the Broncos (2006-08) so I don’t have an eye-test comparing him with Lock. But here are the numbers for each quarterback through two seasons:

Cutler — 9-12 record, 4,498 yards, 29 touchdowns, 19 interceptions, 62.6 completion percentage and an 88.2 passer rating.

Lock — 8-10 record, 3,953 yards, 23 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, 59.1 completion percentage and 79.1 rating.

Pretty similar, right? The key for Lock will be upping his level of play more than Cutler did in 2008, when he was 8-8 with 25 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.

Jones, who led Alabama to a national championship, is an intriguing prospect because he’s old-school in that moving around isn’t his specialty, but he can sure sling it. The Broncos should pass on him at No. 9 and New England should strongly consider him at No. 15.

Is head coach Vic Fangio going to have someone teach him how to call timeouts?
— Lawrence Trujillo, Pueblo

This topic had disappeared after the Week 1 loss to Tennessee until it re-surfaced in the Week 17 loss to Las Vegas. In between, I thought he managed the game well.

Week 1: Trailing 14-13, the Titans took over at their 10-yard line with 3:05 remaining, but Fangio declined to use a timeout as Tennessee drove to the Broncos’ 7 for a winning field goal with 17 seconds remaining.

Week 17: Trailing 31-24, the Raiders took over at their 23-yard line with 1:47 remaining. The Raiders had fourth-and-goal from the 1. Fangio called timeout at the 27-second mark (fine) and then before the two-point conversion (24-second mark), which wasn’t fine because the Raiders were clearly scrambling.

Does Fangio need a timeout management/analytics ear in his headset? It should be explored, if only to see if he erred anywhere else in 2020.

If new general manager George Paton isn’t sold on Drew Lock, we’ll be going quarterback in the draft and that will mean a rookie quarterback and precious draft capital lost for the defense. This is the big one on Paton’s plate. How do you see him carving it up?
–Dan, St. Louis

As I write this Monday afternoon, we’re still waiting to hear from Paton, who was hired last Wednesday. If I was Paton, I would move forward with Lock in 2021 as the Week 1 starter, but prioritize finding a backup who has more experience and can fill in well if Lock is ineffective or injured.

The key part, to use Dan’s phrase, is how does Paton carve up the draft pie as it pertains to the Broncos’ defense? Cornerback or two? Outside linebacker if Von Miller is moved on or even if he isn’t? Safety to prepare for Kareem Jackson’s eventual departure? Defensive end to replace Jurrell Casey (probably) and Shelby Harris (possibly)?

The last time the Broncos used their first two draft picks on defensive players was 2011 (Miller and safety Rahim Moore); they haven’t used their first three picks on defense since 2005 (cornerbacks Darrent Williams, Karl Paymah and Domonique Foxworth).

That could change this year.

With George Paton having Minnesota roots and Carolina seemingly unhappy with Teddy Bridgewater, could Denver potentially make a trade for him to compete with Lock?
— Evan, Golden

Good thought. Paton was the Vikings’ No. 2 front office man when Bridgewater was chosen 32nd overall to close out the 2014 first round. Bridgewater was 6-6 as a rookie and 11-5 in his second year, helping the Vikings to the playoffs. But his career was derailed by a serious knee injury days before the 2016 opener.

Bridgewater was a backup with the New York Jets and New Orleans before signing with Carolina to be the starter. He was 4-11 as the Panthers’ starter (15 touchdowns/11 interceptions).

The Broncos shouldn’t trade for Bridgewater, but if he’s released by Carolina, he would be a fit because he’s been in offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s system, would arrive knowing there isn’t a starting competition and has the experience (49 starts, 1,562 passes) to quickly fill in for Lock if called upon.

Drew Lock will stay on the team, right? What chance is it he’s the starter in Week 1? I really like him, and think he has potential, so it would be silly to not give him this next year right?
— Scott Green, Highlands Ranch

Rapid-fire answers: Yes, Lock is expected to be on the roster. Yes, Lock has a terrific chance to be the Week 1 starter. And yes, it would be silly to give up on him after only 18 career starts and with many other needs to address before starting over at quarterback.

Four teams left in the playoffs. Who wins it all?
— Mike, Denver

NFC title: Green Bay over Tampa Bay.

AFC title: Kansas City (if Patrick Mahomes plays) over Buffalo.

Super Bowl: Green Bay over Kansas City.

In George Paton’s first official move as general manager, should he be on the phone trying to get the Baltimore quarterback Tyler Huntley?
–Dan, St. Louis

The Ravens should keep Huntley as Lamar Jackson’s backup. The former Utah quarterback did well enough in the playoff loss at Buffalo on Saturday night when Jackson sustained a concussion. Huntley was 3-of-5 passing for 15 yards and rushed three times for 32 yards.

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