BRONCOS

Brett Rypien could become trade candidate after promotion

Sep 29, 2021, 6:18 AM
Linebacker Obo Okoronkwo #45 of the Los Angeles Rams deflects a pass by Quarterback Brett Rypien #4...
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Two’s company, three’s a crowd. But the Denver Broncos have three quarterbacks on their 53-man, active roster after promoting third-year signal-caller Brett Rypien on Tuesday in a move that preempts any other teams from claiming him off of their practice squad.

Nevertheless, Rypien doesn’t appear to be long for the Broncos, one way or the other.

Multiple reports suggesting the Houston Texans wanted to claim Rypien and place him on their active roster surfaced on Tuesday afternoon. For a Texans team that seems lost at the position after Deshaun Watson’s extraordinary legal problems came to light, such a move makes perfect sense. After snakebitten starter Tyrod Taylor was hurt once again and placed on injured reserve, the team has underwhelming rookie Davis Mills… and no one else. Watson is on the active roster, but the Texans, wisely, have no plans to play him, given his currently toxic situation.

Coincidentally, the Texans do have Jeff Driskel on their practice squad, but Driskel’s performance with the Broncos last season evidently didn’t provide Houston any confidence. Driskel, who was disastrous in Week 2 and 3 losses to Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay last season before being benched for Rypien, a player whom the Broncos have a clear affinity for. Had Broncos general manager George Paton not acted immediately, Rypien would have leapfrogged Driskel once again in Houston, and possibly be in line to start within only a few weeks.

Houston’s interest in Rypien isn’t likely to wane, given their dire situation. So it makes sense for Paton to engage them in trade discussions as soon as possible.

Obviously, the Broncos shouldn’t expect a significant return — a low-level draft pick or special-teams player, at best — but it’s better than watching Rypien walk for nothing, given that Denver would now have to release him and hope that he clears waivers before once again adding him to their practice squad. Presumably, Houston (or another team) would simply put in a claim and scoop the 25-year-old Boise State product at that point.

Perhaps the Broncos’ enthusiasm about Rypien is genuine, and they so believe in his prospects as the team’s long-term backup quarterback that they’re willing go short on a 53-man roster that’s already lost wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler, cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Michael Ojemudia, running back Mike Boone, and linebackers Bradley Chubb, Josey Jewell and Jonas Griffith — who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday in order to clear a roster spot for Rypien — to injury, but that would be a surprise. Rypien isn’t considered a starting-caliber quarterback, and quite frankly, isn’t expected to become one, either.

As the team’s clear third quarterback behind Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock, Rypien would only play in an emergency situation. In the meantime, the Broncos’ injury situation at more than a few positions is in danger of becoming an emergency of its own.

In truth, the Broncos can’t really afford to carry three quarterbacks for long, if at all. Boone and Ojemudia are getting close to a return. Darby may not be far behind, and they’d each need a spot on the 53-man roster. The Broncos already have a backup with upside in Drew Lock.

While it’s entirely possible that Paton and the Broncos’ brass are now comfortable with moving on from their 2019 second-round draft pick, Lock’s value around the league has plummeted following what could only generously be called a “disappointing” 2020 campaign and his inability to fend off Bridgewater, who has since dazzled in the regular season after coming to Denver in a low-level trade as a journeyman from the Carolina Panthers. Trading Lock at this point doesn’t make sense; he’s got more potential than Rypien, but wouldn’t bring much — if anything — more in a trade as it stands today.

Thanks to the Broncos’ 3-0 start under Bridgewater, the team now holds playoff aspirations and shouldn’t risk moving Lock during the season. He’s worth more to the organization on the roster than off of it. For now, at least.

Only a handful of players make less money than the Broncos’ third quarterback, but the truth of the matter is that Brett Rypien has become a luxury that the Broncos simply can’t afford.

***

Shawn Drotar (@sdrotar) is the on-air host of “Sandy and Shawn;” weeknights from 9p-midnight on 104.3 The Fan.

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