How will the Broncos handle Joe Flacco with Drew Lock as starter?

Joe Flacco has two years left on a deal that carries a whopping $23.65 million salary-cap figure for 2020, when he likely will be the Broncos' No. 2 quarterback. AP Photo/David Zalubowski

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Drew Lock will be the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback in the 2020 season.

Or, as Broncos chief football decision maker John Elway put it earlier this week, it would be "unrealistic" to say Lock is not the starter next season.

But beyond that, the Broncos' quarterback depth chart is little more than financial questions and future decisions, starting with Joe Flacco. Consider how Elway started his answer Monday about whether Lock would be the team's starter after going 4-1 to close out the season.

"I don't see any options right now," Elway said.

Elway then quickly followed with: "Obviously, he finished, did a heck of a job, won four out of five games and played well, but he still has a long way to go -- he's got a lot of work to do. But we're excited about where Drew is, so, we don't like to show our hand, but it's unrealistic to say we're going a different direction."

The 2020 Broncos will have Lock as the projected starter and Flacco as the only other quarterback under contract who has started an NFL game. Flacco's playing future is uncertain because of a herniated disc in his neck and he's facing the possibility of surgery. The Broncos did sign Brett Rypien, who spent his rookie season on the team's practice squad, to a futures contract Tuesday.

The Broncos will have to consider free agency as well as the draft as they determine Flacco's health. Flacco has two years remaining on his contract that carries a whopping $23.65 million salary-cap figure for the 2020 season and $27.65 million for 2021.

The Broncos won't entertain paying anything near that galaxy for their No. 2 quarterback, but teams can't release an injured player without a financial settlement. In short, the two sides are talking about Flacco's future and his contract no matter what -- even as Flacco tries to determine if he can even return to the playing field.

Flacco was quick to say this week that if he were healthy and cleared to play, he would "love" to be back with the Broncos.

"Of course," Flacco said. "... I'll actually look into those things, think about those things when I have to. For now, I'm just focused on working out, getting as healthy as I can."

Flacco, who went to injured reserve Nov. 1, is scheduled to have an MRI on his neck "around the Super Bowl," and he said at that point a decision would be made as to whether he will, or won't, need surgery.

"The plan is to get better, figure out a little more what's going on," Flacco said. "... We're still just kind of waiting to see ... I look forward to playing football again, in whatever capacity that is. ... I could practice now, yeah, but could I play? Yeah. Would they let me play? No. So it's one of those things, I feel good walking around, I would feel good throwing the ball; the question is, when I got hit, or landed on something, or did something, how would I hold up? The answer is probably not good at this point. Other than that, I feel good."

Elway said this of Flacco this week: "We haven't gotten into that yet, but we'll look at that and see what's best."

As for Lock, he met with offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello on Monday to get his offseason plan. Lock has said he would organize throwing workouts with the team's wide receivers and tight ends in the coming weeks.

The Broncos likely will need to add depth to the quarterback position, but the future is brighter than last season.

"With the youth that we have on this team, the young guys that we have and with Drew coming in playing like he played, it feels like we've bounced off the bottom and now we're heading up," Elway said.