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DENVER, CO - AUGUST 26: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers chats with outside following a Preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 26, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Packers 20-17. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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Mile High Monday: The Watson and Rodgers sagas add new chapters

(Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

This week, it all begins for the Denver Broncos 2021 season! The break after mandatory minicamp is over, and the Broncos begin training camp on Wednesday.

I like the calm before the storm. I’ve had a few weeks off air, I’ve had some more time to work on my independent comic book company – and now most all my time will be dedicated to covering this great game we call football. To that I say, “Let’s go!”

I also like contemplating life and sports when driving around with the top down on my old Jeep TJ! The following is a result of those trips during the week.

Buckle up, let’s take a ride through my thoughts.

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Watson Reported, What’s Next?

It was initially a surprise to learn that Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson reported to training camp. I was surprised because Watson has requested a trade from the Texans, and he has 22 active lawsuits against him alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior against the superstar quarterback. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement does not allow teams to waive fines, so Watson was facing $50,000 per day in fines for going to training camp.

I thought for sure we’d see Watson stay away from the facility while things worked out. That didn’t happen and he didn’t want to incur any penalties, so he showed up on Sunday.

So, what’s next for Watson and the Texans? There might be a suspension coming for Watson, but that usually would be handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell once the legal process is exhausted – and that’s going to take quite a bit of time. In the meantime, Watson could be essentially put on paid leave if placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List.

Watson could finally be traded, but perhaps not to the Broncos. Recent speculation includes teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins as potential suitors for Watson. I know the Broncos had interest in trading for Watson before his legal problems came out. Now, it seems like they may be No. 3 in line for Watson if/when he becomes available – at best.

He could stay and play for the Texans, but this seems to be the most unlikely scenario. Watson has emphasized how much he wants to play somewhere else and with all the problems coming out in Houston, a fresh start is best for the young quarterback.

We’ll have to see what happens to Watson in the legal process before anything happens. Reports have speculated that he’s not going to settle with any of the alleged victims, so this is currently on track to go to trial. That’s a process that would take months to get to, then months to get through – putting Watson’s availability even for the 2022 season in question.

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$90 Million Guaranteed Please

The non-stop Aaron Rodgers saga has different twists and turns each week. Whether it’s stories from months ago about the Green Bay Packers offering him an extension (that we already knew), or about house-cleaning crews in Green Bay that have cleaned his home, or a “Last Dance” picture that Rodgers and Packers receiver Davante Adams both posted on their Instagram story, things in this saga can get a bit ridiculous.

Now, reports and rumors are building about what Rodgers may actually want in terms of a new contract. It’s a big number, and it’s fully guaranteed. And it’s a number that may immediately knock prospective teams out of the hunt for the veteran quarterback.

Could the Broncos make $45 million per year for two seasons, fully guaranteed, work with their salary cap? According to OverTheCap.com, the Broncos are No. 2 in the NFL in terms of salary cap space. At this time, the Broncos have around $28 million in available space to work with. That’s about $17 million short of what they’d need to fit Rodgers under the cap this year.

It seems like a lot – because it is – but the Broncos could make it work. They’d have to do some “salary cap gymnastics” and restructure players with larger salaries. They’d also likely deal a high-priced player to the Packers in exchange for Rodgers – in addition to plenty of draft capital (two first-round picks?).

I’m certain that players already here would be willing to re-work their deals to make room for Rodgers. I’m also sure that any player traded away – no matter how painful for the fan base – would be an acceptable price to pay in order to get a superstar quarterback who would immediately make the Broncos a Super Bowl contender.

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All Eyez on QB

I’ll be out at Broncos training camp every day, and every practice I’m sure I’ll be writing about and talking about the quarterback battle first and foremost. Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock will be competing in a 50-50 battle that could take the team all the way through training camp and the preseason before a decision is made on the starter.
All eyes will be on the quarterback position every day. It’s not the only story, but this is clearly the most important story to monitor closely.

Broncos head coach Vic Fangio says this is a 50-50 battle, but I feel that it’s really not. Instead, it seems like Bridgewater could be the preferred passer because of his game and his veteran experience. He’s going to be “steady Teddy” every day in practice, he’s well versed in the offense and Bridgewater normally doesn’t make a lot of mistakes when throwing the ball. He’s incredibly accurate and receivers have already seemed to gravitate toward the savvy leader.

Everyone can see how Lock has the higher upside, but he’s also not played as well as Bridgewater has in the NFL. One day, with time and development, Lock could be the better quarterback, but he’s not that person right now. It’s up to Lock to go out every day in training camp and prove he’s the better option. Lock does that by being himself, letting his natural playmaking ability shine through.

He’s also going to win the job if he doesn’t go into a shell when he makes a mistake. The Broncos defense is legit – one of the best in the league – and they’re likely going to make Lock look bad from time to time. He must be ready to have a short memory and work quickly onto the next play.

While the album “All Eyez on Me” was a multi-platinum hit for Tupac, the Broncos quarterback battle – no matter who wins – is more likely to play out like something from Wolfmother. For those not familiar with the Led Zeppelin rip-off group Wolfmother, they’re just a poor imitation of something we all know is greater. That description of Lock versus Bridgewater sounds about right.

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Take Me Back

I was born in Cheyenne, Wyo., years ago at DePaul Hospital. Even though I’m from Grover, Colo., the hospital in Cheyenne was the closest to our ranch when I was growing up. Our house was on the state line, about 20 yards into the Wyoming side of the border, and our mailbox was three miles south in Colorado. So growing up, I had a Wyoming phone number and a Colorado address.

Cheyenne Frontier Days was always a big event on the summer calendar in my household. Growing up on the rodeo trail, CFD was the Super Bowl of the summer. My dad would compete in the calf roping, and out of the 125 years of CFD, I’ve been there at least 15 of those years growing up. Add in another 10 or so as an adult, and you could say I’m a bit of a CFD expert.

It was great to cap off my summer vacation this year with another trip to Cheyenne Frontier Days. I’ll be there for most of the rodeo performances, but on Friday night, I was there to kick things off with the Garth Brooks concert. Garth put on a heckuva show, and it was great to see him in concert for the first time in my life.

Have you been to Cheyenne Frontier Days, either the rodeo or a concert? Hit me up on social media and let me know!