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Why the Broncos signed Case Keenum

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We’ll see if Keenum can replicate his success from his time with the Vikings.

NFL: NFC Championship-Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

After going from third-string quarterback to leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship game, Case Keenum is expected to sign with the Denver Broncos when free agency opens Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The 29-year-old passer started in 14 of his 15 games played in 2017. He completed nearly 68 percent of his passes, throwing for more than 3,500 yards, 22 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. While the Vikings were known for their defense, he showed at times he could help them win games offensively.

He got his opportunity with Teddy Bridgewater still recovering from his knee injury prior to the 2016 season, and Sam Bradford out with his own knee injury. He did enough to convince the Broncos he can be their starter in 2018.

Terms of the deal have yet to be reported, but Keenum’s contract is said to be less than what Kirk Cousins is expected to command, obviously.

What does Keenum bring to the Broncos?

Keenum, Bradford, and Bridgewater all hit free agency this offseason. That made the Vikings’ quarterback situation a difficult one. On one hand, Bridgewater is finally healthy. He suffered a devastating knee injury in August 2016, ending his season, and even putting his career in jeopardy after once looking like a promising franchise quarterback. It led Bradford to start in his place.

Bradford played well in 2016, but he went down in 2017, which led to Keenum. Expectations were low — after all, Keenum was benched the previous season by the Rams — but he ended up shattering them. The Vikings were good enough to compete with anybody while he was under center, going 11-3 in his starts.

But this was Keenum’s sixth season in the NFL — his first with the Vikings, and the one with his most significant playing time as a starter. The Vikings weren’t sure he’s not just a flash in the pan, so they’re going in a different direction. Now we’ll see if he can replicate last year’s success this coming season with the Broncos.

Overall, this is a good move for the Broncos

Denver gets a starting quarterback for a more manageable price than Cousins commands. At the NFL Combine, Broncos general manager John Elway dropped hints that suggested it wasn’t a team ready to spend the kind of money required to attract the former Washington quarterback to Denver.

How much the team saved by going with Keenum hasn’t yet been revealed and likely won’t be until Wednesday, but Cousins was probably going to cost close to $30 million per year and Denver will save plenty by getting Keenum instead.

On Wednesday we’ll also get a chance to see how committed the Broncos truly are to their new quarterback. Keenum will presumably be the starter in 2018, but the team also has 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch on the roster and could identify another quarterback to be the future face of the franchise with the No. 5 pick.

Either way, Keenum will get another chance to prove he can be a viable starter and help a team win. And the Broncos — who finished No. 3 in total defense in 2017 but were bogged down by interceptions and poor quarterback play — look like the perfect team to allow Keenum to replicate his breakout season.