Just when you thought 2020 couldn't get any crazier, Adam Schefter dropped this gem on us:
Schefter must have taken a screenwriting class at some point in his career, because this is “conflict escalation” at its highest form. This is not a drill. Because Drew Lock, Brett Rypien and Blake Bortles have all been in close contact with teammate Jeff Driskel, who tested positive for COVID earlier this week, none of the three are eligible to play against New Orleans in Week 12.
With kickoff slated for 4:05 PM ET, a free agent wouldn’t be able to pass the NFL’s COVID protocol in time to suit up. That means we won’t be seeing Colin Kaepernick or any of the league’s other available talent (Cody Kessler and former Broncos seventh-round pick Chad Kelly are both waiting by the phone) Sunday at Mile High. Further complicating matters, the Broncos and Saints have each used their bye weeks, rendering Sunday’s game impossible to reschedule.
This leaves the Broncos with three wholly unappealing options. The first of these would be to forfeit, which Schefter has already acknowledged as unlikely. When the Titans were in a similar bind against Buffalo earlier this year, the Bills resisted because, tempting as it may have been to take the W, players don’t get paid when their opponent forfeits. Another option would be for coach Vic Fangio to employ a run-heavy scheme—perhaps one resembling Navy’s famous “Triple Option”—featuring Royce Freeman as a wildcat quarterback. That wouldn’t be all that different from the offense New Orleans has been favoring of late with gadget player Taysom Hill filling in for injured starter Drew Brees.
But the most likely scenario is that Kendall Hinton, who began his Wake Forest tenure at quarterback before making the switch to slot receiver, will be elevated from the Broncos’ practice squad and receive the bulk of Denver’s quarterback snaps against the Saints.
We knew playing through a pandemic would pose challenges, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted we’d see Hill, who was classified as a tight end on fantasy platforms as recently as last week, going toe-to-toe with Hinton in a regular-season game. Jerry Jeudy, for one, is looking forward to tomorrow’s anarchy. Former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, who was lost to a season-ending ankle injury, has also volunteered as tribute should the Broncos need an extra body.
In the strangest NFL season of our lifetime, Week 12 is setting the insanity bar awfully high.