Case Keenum could be following the path of Josh Allen’s last backup — leaving the Buffalo Bills after one season to compete for a starting job as a placeholder quarterback.
Keenum saw limited action during the last season as the durable Allen fought through an elbow injury and started all 17 regular-season games. Keenum is now headed to free agency, where he could have the chance to compete for a starting job with a handful of teams, including one with a second-year quarterback who may need some veteran competition.
Case Keenum Could fit With Commanders
As The Athletic’s Ben Standig noted, the Washington Commanders are high on 2022 fifth-round pick Sam Howell, telling offensive coordinator candidates that he will start the offseason as No. 1 quarterback but will eventually have to win the job on a permanent basis.
The Commanders likely won’t have the cap space to go after a high-end starter, with Standig noting that the team is mindful of the available budget and expected to pay a big price to keep free-agent defensive tackle Daron Payne. After taking a swing with veteran Carson Wentz last season, Standig wrote that he expects the Commanders to shop for a more affordable option to compete with Howell for the coming season.
“Dropping down a tier or two would lower expenses annually to the $5-10 million range,” he wrote. “Another route would be starting a quarterback on a rookie contract. Washington already has visions for that approach.”
That leaves a smaller group of veterans, most with starting experience but who have since been relegated to backup roles. Standing identified Keenum as a potential option.
Other Options for Case Keenum
The 34-year-old Keenum, whose last season as a full-time starter came with the Denver Broncos in 2018, could have other options in free agency. The Athletic’s David Lombardi noted that the San Francisco 49ers could likely look for a mid-range quarterback to take the helm while Brock Purdy recovers from an elbow injury suffered in the NFC Championship game.
Keenum could also return to the Bills to remain Allen’s backup. Since the team gave Allen a $258 million contract, they have also made strategic investments into the backup role. That meant tapping former No. 2 overall pick Mitch Tribusky last season, convincing him to pass over the potential to compete for starting jobs so he could spend a season behind Allen.
The Bills also valued Keenum enough to expend some draft capital on him, landing him in a March 2022 trade that sent a seventh-round pick to the Cleveland Browns. Keenum also seemed to be happy in Buffalo, saying last summer that he was happy to see how much the franchise valued him.
“It does. It feels great to have a team want you to come,” Keenum told the Buffalo News. “I think that’s when you look at a trade, you know, it’s less about being traded away. It’s a team that wants you. It’s a fresh start. A great city. I think Buffalo has exceeded my expectations in a lot of different ways, including off the field, out of the building. It’s been great.”