ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — He’s an undersized underdog, underpaid and unshakable.
Trevor Siemian, who considered going into real estate when his college career ended on crutches, has spent three consecutive summers forcing the Denver Broncos to rethink their plans.
Siemian has dispatched two former first-round QBs the last two summers following a year’s apprenticeship under Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler when he flashed so much in training camp that sneaking him onto the practice squad became impossible.
In dispatching Mark Sanchez last season and Paxton Lynch this summer, Siemian has wowed two different coaching staffs while engineering two contrasting offenses.
“That was a huge deal for him being a seventh-round draft pick, being an NFL starter and winning the job two years in a row. That’s a tough deal,” coach Vance Joseph said after declaring Siemian the winner of the five-month audition on Monday.
“It’s great,” Broncos star linebacker Von Miller said. “I feel very comfortable with Trev.”
So does Joseph, Denver’s rookie coach whose first order of business after replacing Gary Kubiak was to hire Mike McCoy to coordinate his offense and whose second move was to declare his QB job up for grabs in a “50-50 open competition.”
Reapplying for his job was something Siemian took in stride .
“Honestly, I think you have to compete for your job every day and every week,” he said.
Just like Manning used to do.
“That guy wasn’t content, Hall of Fame or whatever,” Siemian said. “Every day and every week I think you have to earn your job. Quarterback is no different.”
That work ethic served him well as he digested McCoy’s playbook and fended off Lynch while disregarding the cacophony of Lynch supporters who felt the athletic, agile prospect deserved the job based on potential, not performance.
“I just worried about myself and improving,” Siemian said. “I had a shot coming in and for me, that’s all I needed.”
That’s all he’s ever required.
A sometimes starter at Northwestern, his rather unremarkable resume included a scant 14 starts for the Wildcats with 27 career touchdowns to go with 24 career interceptions when the Broncos took a chance on him.
“I really wasn’t expecting a call to be honest with you,” Siemian said the day the Broncos made him the 250th overall selection of the 2015 NFL draft.
Despite missing the offseason program while recovering from knee surgery, Siemian unseated Zac Dysert in training camp as the team’s third quarterback. He also forced his way onto the 53-man roster of a Super Bowl-bound team that quickly realized sneaking him through waivers and onto their practice squad wouldn’t work.
Although he took just one snap that season, Siemian gained invaluable experience listening to Manning and facing Denver’s defense.
“It was an unbelievable challenge,” Siemian recounted last year. “You’re forced to kind of make throws and use your imagination a little bit against our guys. I think going against them every day and getting your butt kicked a lot helped a little bit.”
Siemian’s rise as Manning’s surprise successor began when Osweiler jilted the Broncos and left for Houston in free agency 48 hours after Manning retired last year.
General manager John Elway acquired Sanchez in a trade and moved up in the draft to select Lynch, out of Memphis, with the 26th overall pick.
In the aftermath of those moves, Siemian helped tutor Sanchez and Lynch in Kubiak’s system, but when asked if he, himself, felt he had the chance to win the starting job, Siemian said simply: “Absolutely.”
It was an opinion shared by precious few until he went out and parlayed his year’s head-start in the offense into the starting job.
Only, he had to reapply, so to speak, when Kubiak stepped down and Joseph arrived.
Winning the starting job again this month who silenced the incessant chatter on Denver’s airwaves and on social media about the athletic and agile Lynch.
Now, the talk is about the unshakable Siemian and how, with a solid season, he could hit the jackpot.
He’s only making $615,000 this year, a bargain for a starting quarterback in an era where the established starters make $20 million and even a quarterback like Chicago’s Mike Glennon — who’s completed 41 percent of his passes this preseason — can command $15 million annually.
Siemian is heading into unrestricted free agency after this season, so other teams could get into the mix and push his price higher if he puts up good numbers. The Broncos could also franchise tag him — this year’s franchise tag for quarterbacks was worth $21.268 million.
Those are heady numbers for a guy who once figured football was in his rearview.
NOTES: The Broncos claimed DL Jimmy Bean off waivers from the Raiders on Friday, a day after Oakland waived the first-year pro from Oklahoma State who spent last season on the Raiders’ practice squad. To make room, the Broncos waived CB Dontrell Nelson.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton