The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos did a little dance this offseason in attempting to move Colin Kaepernick. As is often the case, it reportedly came down to money. According to numerous reports, the Broncos did not want to pay Kap his full salary, and neither Kap nor the 49ers wanted to take the hit that would be required to do a deal. And so now, the Broncos head into the 2016 season with Mark Sanchez likely starting when Week 1 rolls around.
Based on an article a couple weeks ago, some executives might be OK with that. ESPN’s AFC West bloggers recently ranked the quarterbacks in the division. Broncos beat writer Jeff Legwold chatted with seven NFL personnel executives (he did not specify if it was seven different teams, or if they were all in the AFC West), and it is no surprise they had Philip Rivers at the top. They then had Derek Carr at No. 2. Things get interesting after that. They ranked Mark Sanchez ahead of Alex Smith in large part because of Sanchez’s specific situation:
The biggest reason? Most think coach Gary Kubiak’s offense will fit Sanchez and the Broncos are expected to run the ball well. Smith had always played low-risk football and limits interceptions, but the personnel executives want to see him make the throws he needs to make when the games are on the line.
I will admit, I am curious to see what Sanchez is able to do in Denver. He’s got a lot of intriguing offensive weapons, and Gary Kubiak knows a thing or two about offensive development. I suppose I can see this as executives looking more at gambling on the upside. That being said, Alex Smith remains an underrated quarterback. Sure, he’s no superstar, but he’s a very capable quarterback who can do big things in the right situation. With Peyton Manning out of the picture in the AFC West, the division is entirely wide open. The Raiders are not exactly a dark horse given the hype they have coming off an improved 2015, but they’re still not a favorite. The Chiefs and Broncos are currently co-favorites to claim the division, followed by the Raiders and then Chargers. If I was a betting man (oh wait, I am!), the Raiders and Chargers are the much more interesting bets for the AFC West.