ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — For the second time in the past seven years, the Denver Broncos have roared into free agency to fix a quarterback problem.
In 2012 it was Peyton Manning, and this year it’s Case Keenum.
Sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter the Broncos will reel in the 30-year-old Keenum to be their quarterback of the present and future when free agency officially opens Wednesday.
Keenum is expected to become the first of the high-profile quarterbacks in the open market to agree to a deal.
Keenum helped power the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game last season as Minnesota went 11-3 in his regular-season starts in place of an injured Sam Bradford.
Keenum finished the season with 3,547 yards passing to go with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Keenum is also a player the Broncos felt like they knew well given the team’s senior personnel advisor and former coach Gary Kubiak coached Keenum for two seasons when Kubiak was the Texans’ head coach.
Kubiak has an increased role in the Broncos’ personnel evaluations this year and has been a major voice as the Broncos have prepared for free agency and the draft.
Broncos president of football operations/general manager John Elway had made finding a long-term solution at quarterback the priority of the offseason after the Broncos limped to a 5-11 finish this past season with an offense that finished the year tied for 26th in scoring.
Elway has said early in the offseason “for us to have a chance to get better we have to get better at that position.”
The Broncos had three quarterbacks start games this past season — Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler — but it was a bumpy ride on offense as the Broncos were among the league leaders in turnovers and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy was fired in November.
Only the winless Cleveland Browns threw more interceptions than the Broncos’ 22 and the Broncos had just one receiver catch more than 50 passes and finished with more than 560 yards receiving — Demaryius Thomas with 83 catches and 949 yards.
At the scouting combine, two weeks before free agency opened, Elway did compare the “fluid” nature of chasing a quarterback in free agency this year to the pursuit of Manning.
“Even with Peyton, we weren’t a for sure thing with Peyton,” Elway said. “That was always fluid, too, but he was our target.”
For Keenum, he will now face a pile of expectations in a quarterback-crazed region that saw its team win a Super Bowl just two seasons ago.
Keenum’s teams are 20-18 in his games as a starter and he had both of his career playoff starts this past January for the Vikings.
The Broncos haven’t made the playoffs since their Super Bowl win to close out the 2015 season and their inconsistent play in both the offensive line and at quarterback have been big reasons why they’ve sat out the postseason.
Elway said in recent weeks he still believed the team could get back into the postseason mix with an upgrade behind center.
“I still think we’re not too far away,” Elway said. “Obviously we have to get better at that position. We didn’t play well there last year. That doesn’t all go on the players. There were some things that we should have done that we should have done differently that we didn’t do. I feel like we can get right back in the thick of the things rather quickly. I think we still have a good defensive football team.”