Who will play QB for the Broncos? The most bizarre Week 12 emergency ideas, from coaching staff to Tim Tebow

Who will play QB for the Broncos? The most bizarre Week 12 emergency ideas, from coaching staff to Tim Tebow

Denver is in the middle of a nightmare scenario ahead of its game against the Saints on Sunday.

None of the Broncos’ designated quarterbacks can play against New Orleans. Not starter Drew Lock, not backup Brett Rypien, not No. 3 Jeff Driskel, not practice squad veteran Blake Bortles — no one.

Denver can’t even sign a new quarterback from outside the organization to run its offense. Per NFL protocols, new players can’t enter a team facility or start to practice until they test negative for five straight days. They then have to test negative on the sixth day with a point of contact test.

So, who does that leave to take snaps at quarterback?

MORE: Why the Broncos can’t sign a new QB to play vs. Saints

Broncos coach Vic Fangio previously tabbed running back Royce Freeman as the team’s emergency starter, but reports suggest practice squad receiver Kendall Hilton will earn the start on Sunday. He played three seasons at quarterback for Wake Forest.

It’s a fluid situation, one that could change series to series — or play to play — depending on how well either of those players perform. With that, PoliticSay breaks down who might take over under center for the Broncos in a weird Sunday matchup against New Orleans:

Who will play QB for the Broncos?

Kendall Hinton

Per a report from Denver TV station K-USA, Hinton will earn the start Sunday when the Broncos kick off against New Orleans (4:05 p.m. ET on Fox). Hinton, the No. 31 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2014, played the position for parts of seasons at Wake Forest from 2015 to 2018. In 23 games, he completed 133 of 251 passes (53 percent) for 1,504 yards and eight touchdowns to seven interceptions.

After briefly flirting with the transfer portal in 2019, Hinton, then a redshirt senior, transitioned to slot receiver, catching 73 passes for 1,001 yards. He went undrafted but was signed to the Broncos’ practice team.

Royce Freeman

Fangio has previously called Freeman the team’s emergency quarterback, but it’s curious how he came up with that designation. Freeman had only a single passing attempt in his entire collegiate career at Oregon, where he rushed for 5,621 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and 60 touchdowns from 2014 to 2017. That one pass — which he threw as a freshman in 2014 — was a 26-yard touchdown to Marcus Mariota:

Hey, you could do worse than someone with 100 completion percentage and 648.4 passer rating.

What happened to the other Broncos quarterbacks?

Denver’s quarterback nightmare began Thursday when Driskel learned he tested positive for COVID-19. That in itself didn’t wipe out the Broncos’ quarterback room, however.

That happened the day prior, when he was in high-risk close contact with Lock, Rypien and Bortles (none of whom, reportedly, wore masks when they interacted with him).

It was a spectacular failure by the Broncos, one that means none of their signal-callers can suit up against the Saints.

MORE: Who is Kendall Hinton?

Broncos’ other options at QB

Rob Calabrese

How desperate was Denver to field a quarterback? The team reportedly inquired with the NFL whether it could sign Calabrese — the team’s offensive quality control coach — as an emergency option, a la the NHL. The former UFC quarterback (117 of 254 passing, 1,226 yards, 12 touchdowns, seven interceptions) had to run the team’s offense during practice Saturday.

Bad news for the Broncos: The league rebuffed the idea. So, no go here.

Justin Rascati

The Broncos also inquired whether Rascati, in his second season as an offensive quality control coach, could be signed. The former James Madison quarterback, who led the team to a Division I-AA (now FCS) title as a sophomore in 2004, clearly has experience in high-pressure situations. He threw for more than 2,000 yards and completed 14 touchdowns as a senior in 2006, earning tryouts with the NFL and CFL before playing in the Arena Football 2 League.

Alas, the league also declined the Broncos’ inquiry on signing Rascati. Where to next?

Tim Tebow

Surely Tebow isn’t doing anything that would keep him from playing Sunday?

The former first-round pick never really lived up to the incredible legacy he built at Florida, where he earned the distinction of PoliticSay’ No. 2 college football player of all time. But anyone who was that good in college deserves a shot — perhaps as a Taysom Hill-type player?

And for those who scoff at the idea of bringing Tebow back into the fold, here’s a reminder that he has walk-off experience in playoff games. Look no further than his 80-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas in the 2011 AFC Wild Card round:


Oh, but then there’s that pesky NFL protocol rule. So that would limit Broncos’ other options to players currently on the roster. …

Von Miller

Hell, why not?

Miller clocks in at an impressive 6-3, 249 pounds: the same height — and 10 pounds heavier — than one Derrick Henry. We already know how hard the Titans running back is to tackle, so tackling Miller should be similarly difficult. And if Henry can throw touchdown passes, why can’t Miller?

For what it’s worth, Miller seems ready to begin his career as a two-way player. Just call him “Von Elway”:

Miller, of course, is on injured reserve and out for the season, so his ambitions were a pipe dream.

Jerry Jeudy

If the Broncos want to preserve Miller on defense, then perhaps they can go with the phenomenal rookie receiver out of Alabama? Jeudy knows a thing or two about good passing; he did catch passes from Tua Tagovailoa, after all.

Just look at this B-E-A-utiful bomb he threw back in May, (preceded, by the way, with a statement exuding quarterback-caliber confidence):

And hey, Jeudy’s elite top-end speed and agility have to count for something, right? He can be the Broncos’ version of Lamar Jackson:

Playing QB could hurt his receiving stats, however; a small price to pay if he can lead the team to victory.