The plan called for Kevin Hogan to assume backup quarterback duties in Denver while rookie Drew Lock mends his thumb injury.
But things rarely go according to plan in the NFL, as Hogan can now attest.
Per 9News’ Mike Klis, the Broncos surprisingly released the veteran signal-caller on Saturday, hours before the league-wide 4 p.m. ET roster cutdown deadline. The transaction leaves a gaping hole behind starting QB Joe Flacco which they’ll likely fill with an outside player.
“That situation is fluid as they’ll keep looking,” NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said.
A fourth-year pro, Hogan was remarkably unremarkable this preseason, completing 33-of-65 passes for 311 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He added six rushes for 40 yards and a TD but absorbed a whopping six sacks and provided little spark for the offense.
“Tough day,” he told Klis. “Just unfortunate but I felt like I had a great camp. Felt like I caught some bad breaks in the preseason but I’m extremely optimistic that I’m not done playing.”
Head coach Vic Fangio said before Thursday’s exhibition finale that he hoped to “see separation” between Hogan and undrafted rookie Brett Rypien, who was also battling for the No. 2 job. Going into the game, Fangio remained undecided on the clubhouse leader.
“That remains to be seen,” he said. “I’ve seen some good play. I’ve seen some not so good, so I don’t know the answer to that just yet.”
Rypien, playing the entire second half against the Cardinals, completed eight of 11 passes for 86 yards and an interception as Denver coasted to a 20-7 victory. He’s a candidate to be released and resurface on the practice squad, should he not make the 53-man roster.
While the team has remained guarded on Lock’s status, the second-round draft pick is expected to miss a few regular season games with the injury to his throwing hand. He had earned the opportunity to operate as Flacco’s understudy.
“He was improving daily and I saw good strides,” Fangio said on Aug. 22. “I’d say he was tracking towards that. I wouldn’t say he had it yet.”
The Broncos currently have just Rypien behind Flacco, whose 2018 campaign in Baltimore was cut short by a hip injury. It’s a certainty they’ll acquire another passer — via signing or trade — to provide insurance at the sport’s most important position.
Notable free agents include former Rams QB Brandon Allen and former Charger Cardale Jones. Klis speculates the Broncos could show interest in well-traveled, 33-year-old Brian Hoyer, who was axed by the Patriots and has familiarity with offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello’s scheme.
“Just speculating: Released QB Brian Hoyer spent time with Kyle Shanahan/Rich Scangarello/TC McCartney in SF in 2017,” he wrote on Twitter. “With Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland in 2014 and Houston in 2015. He knows Broncos offensive system. Makes sense.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL