ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In an offseason where much of the conversation about the Denver Broncos quarterbacks was about players who were not on the team, the two quarterbacks who are participating in the team's competition at this point -- Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater -- have decided to tune it all out and get to work.
"Honestly, man, I just keep my head down, and control what I can control,'' Bridgewater said Monday after the team's first OTA practice. "I tell everyone that in this business that you have to have your big-boy drawers on. I've learned a lot can happen in this business.''
The Broncos traded a sixth-round pick to the Carolina Panthers to acquire Bridgewater the day before the draft and the Panthers agreed to pay $7 million of Bridgewater's $10 million salary guarantee for the 2021 season. The idea, Broncos general manager George Paton said, was for Bridgewater to compete with Drew Lock for the starting job and help Lock along the way.
But the Broncos' offseason has largely been an extended ride on the quarterback rumor mill. First there was the team's brief dalliance about a trade for Matthew Stafford, then the Aaron Rodgers rumors as the draft opened, then the team passed on selecting Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields with the No. 9 pick to take Alabama cornerback Pat Surtain II.
And even now, drive-time radio in the region continues to be filled with discussion about Rodgers and likely will at least stay that way until there is public reconciliation between the Packers and Rodgers.
So, as Lock and Bridgewater were on the field together for the first time Monday for what coach Vic Fangio has called a "true 50-50 split'' of work through these workouts, minicamp, training camp and preseason games to pick a starter for the season, both of the quarterbacks are trying not to pay attention.
Fangio and Paton had met with Lock before the trade for Bridgewater, to outline the competition for the job Lock had last season. Lock tied for the league lead in interceptions and was last in the league in completion percentage.
When asked Monday if he had heard all of names tossed about for the Broncos and their future at quarterback, Lock said, "no, believe it or not.'' Lock said he has spent so much time with his offseason plan to improve, a plan that has included consultations with Peyton Manning to go with a workout regimen, and "being able to do that gave me zero time to listen to all this stuff. Maybe one day I'll go back and read and laugh about all the things that we're being said that ended up being completely wrong.''
"First thing [Broncos linebacker] Von [Miller] said to me was 'you're here to play football and that's my mindset, I'm here to play football,'' Bridgewater said. " ... Whatever happens, happens.''
Lock did say those closest to him, including his family and friends. have not passed along what they've seen or heard someone say.
"I'd like to think the reason no one has said anything to me is because those are probably the really close people in my life and they understand it's not worth their time either,'' Lock said. "Whatever happens, happens. And if anyone did say anything to me it was zero texts back or no call back because they were probably not even in my really tight circle.''
Lock said his father, Andy, will tell him if he has seen a Broncos player on social media offering support for Lock. Lock started 13 games last season and he finished with 2,933 yards passing to go with 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions as the Broncos went 5-11, missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.
Since the start of the 2017 season, the Broncos have had nine different players start games at quarterback and have had three different QBs start games in three of those seasons -- 2017, 2019 and 2020. The 2020 total doesn't include the Nov. 29 game against the New Orleans Saints when running back Phillip Lindsay opened behind center because the Broncos had no quarterbacks in uniform due to violations of COVID-19 protocols.
Bridgewater also said Monday his comments on a CBS Sports podcast this month, in which he questioned the Panthers' practice routine last season, were taken out of context.
"I'm in Denver, I'm not here to discuss anything about last year ... I said what I said a couple weeks ago and of course it was taken out of context like I was talking bad about [Panthers offensive coordinator] Joe Brady. Joe's is my guy, we texted after that, he's a South Florida guy, I'm rooting for him. I'm in Denver, I don't have much to say about last year," he said.