John Elway: 'Unrealistic' to say Drew Lock won't start for Denver Broncos in 2020

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- John Elway said Monday that it would be "unrealistic'' to say Drew Lock would not be the Denver Broncos' starting quarterback in 2020.

Broncos players, including Lock, went through their end-of-the season check-out procedures, and Lock said he believed he had done enough to be the starting quarterback next season and beyond. Roughly 90 minutes later, Elway agreed.

"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,'' said Elway, the Broncos' president of football operations/general manager.

"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 Broncos were 4-1 in Lock's five starts after Lock had returned to the roster from injured reserve -- he had suffered a right thumb injury in the preseason. Overall, after an 0-4 start, the Broncos were 7-5 over their last 12 games, 5-3 in the second half of the season.

When asked if the playoffs are a reasonable expectation for next season, Elway said simply, "Yes.''

Among the other major items Elway covered in 35 minutes were:

• The Broncos will pick up linebacker Von Miller's contract option.

• Elway wants to sign safety Justin Simmons, poised to be an unrestricted free agent, to a long-term deal and he told Simmons that Monday.

• He is also open to discussing a new deal for Phillip Lindsay, who is the first undrafted running back in league history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in his first two seasons. Under the collective bargaining agreement, Lindsay is now eligible to renegotiate his contract. Lindsay would be in the final year of his original three-year contract in 2020 with a base salary of $660,000.

• Quarterback Joe Flacco's future will be evaluated in the coming weeks.

But Lock's future was easily the most popular topic. Lock has said he is already approaching the offseason as if he will be the starter moving forward, and has plans to get together with Broncos receivers multiple times in the coming months.

In the minutes following the Broncos' 16-15 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday, Lock said he also intended to ask Elway and Peyton Manning how to approach the offseason.

"The one thing I have thought about is just being extremely happy that I could come in here and put my face on it, put my stamp on it, be the guy, talk to everybody like I'm the guy, walk around the facility like I'm the guy,'' Lock said. "... Now, hopefully, I can come back and just be the face everybody comes to ... I kind of took that approach the last five games.''

Lock, who was 17-of-28 passing for 177 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's win, finished his five games of work 100-of-156 passing (64.1 percent) for 1,020 yards to go with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. His touchdown total and passer rating (89.7) was the best among the three quarterbacks the Broncos started in games this season -- Lock, Flacco and Brandon Allen.

Flacco, who went to injured reserve Nov. 1 with a herniated disc in his neck, has two years remaining on his current contract, with salary-cap charges of $23.65 million in 2020 and $27.65 million in 2021. Flacco said Monday that he is scheduled to get another MRI in "about a month, month and a half'' to determine whether he will need surgery and to assess his playing future.

"Get another MRI and make some decisions,'' Flacco said. "At this point, I'm just optimistic about getting better.''

While the Broncos would likely request some contract adjustments from Flacco, including the possibility of releasing the veteran and re-signing him later if he's cleared to play, when asked Monday if he wanted to be back with Denver even if it meant being Lock's backup, Flacco said: "Of course. I want the opportunity at some level, and if it ends up here, in whatever capacity that is, it would be great. ...

"I'm probably a little bit more worried about other things at this point, but if [being a backup is] what it has to be, I want to play football. If that's what it has to be, whether it's here or wherever, if that's what it has to be for me to get back in and start playing again, then yeah, I'll go that route.''