But just weeks after then-coach Josh McDaniels traded for Quinn in 2010 -- after telling Quinn he would have a real, legitimate chance to battle for the job with Kyle Orton -- McDaniels drafted Tim Tebow in the first round. Following that move, Quinn’s odyssey with the Broncos became a bizarre affair that saw him as the odd passer out in a two-year ride on the Orton-Tebow roller-coaster.
In the end, Quinn did not attempt a pass in a regular-season game in his two seasons with the team. But Quinn showed himself, no matter the bumps that appeared in the road, to be one the most selfless players Denver has had walk through its doors.
His impact on the current roster can still be seen, at least some, in tight end Julius Thomas.
As a rookie stuck in a lockout in 2011, Thomas worked with Quinn, stayed at Quinn's house and learned the playbook from Quinn. Thomas said this week he would "always be grateful" for Quinn's time and efforts that helped pave Thomas' way to a Pro Bowl season.
"In my career, the way things have kind of worked out, that’s my goal. If I can just have a positive impact on the people I’m around or have touched in some way, that’s what I want," Quinn said by phone Tuesday. "Of course, I want to start and play and win a Super Bowl, but there’s only a few that ever get that opportunity and timing and circumstances have to be right. But being able to help a guy, it’s probably the biggest compliment you can get … Julius is the one who’s always had the ability. I just wish I could have been the quarterback throwing to him. Having thrown to Demaryius [Thomas], thrown to Julius, thrown to all those guys, you knew the potential of how special it would be at some point and then Peyton [Manning] got there to just take it to the level where they are."
And when the constant drumbeat of a quarterback controversy followed Orton and Tebow through most of the 2010 and 2011 seasons, at least until Orton was released in November 2011, it was Quinn who stayed after practice, day after day and week after week to work with Tebow. It was Quinn who had lost the most potential playing time in all of it, yet there he was trying to fine-tune Tebow’s grasp of the offense.
These days, Quinn, who is currently on the St. Louis Rams' roster, is recovering from back surgery. He had a disk repaired nine weeks ago, and now the former Notre Dame quarterback finds himself working out at USC most days as part of his doctor’s recovery plans.
"Yeah, I’m at USC, but they’ve been great," Quinn said. "I feel a ton better since the surgery, just trying to get my back strong and get back to doing what I need to do on the field. I’m getting there."