The Broncos have tried everything to find a replacement quarterback for Sunday’s game against the Saints.
Denver wanted to start offensive quality control coach Rob Calabrese with all four quarterbacks on their depth chart — Drew Lock, Brett Rypien, Brandon Allen and Jeff Driskel — unable to start after high-risk COVID-19 contacts, according to ESPN.
The NFL denied the Broncos’ request on Saturday and said they would not be allowed to activate a member of the coaching to their active roster. Instead, rookie practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton will get the start this week. Hinton, 23, was an undrafted free agent from Wake Forest who last took quarterback reps in 2015.
Driskel tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, and Lock, Rypien and Allen were subsequently deemed ineligible to start on Sunday.
Signing a free agent signal-caller wasn’t an option for the Broncos in that time frame, as one would not be eligible to start in time for their Week 12 matchup in light of the COVID-19 protocols.
Bereft of better options, the Broncos felt Calabrese would have the best command of the Denver playbook and “could run the system better than anyone,” per ESPN.
Calabrese last played football as a hybrid wide receiver/quarterback for the University of Central Florida Knights in 2012. He spent a season coaching high school, then worked as a graduate assistant in 2014 and offensive coordinator in 2017 for the Knights. He has been been Denver’s offensive quality control coach for the past two years.
The Broncos also pleaded with the league to push the game until Tuesday, which would allow at least one of their quarterbacks to be activated. That request was similarly denied.
No exceptions were made, especially in light of the Broncos’ choice to not isolate any of their quarterbacks and violations of the league’s stringent COVID-19 protocols put into place to avoid situations like these, ESPN added.
The Broncos could face fines and loss of draft picks for their actions leading up to this, similar to the punishments recently handed down to the Saints and Raiders.