Trevor Siemian‘s season is over.
An MRI taken Friday confirmed that Siemian suffered subluxation, or a partial dislocation, of his left shoulder (the same one he had surgically repaired in January) and was placed on season-ending injured reserve. Broncos coach Vance Joseph said Siemian will not require surgery, for now; just rest and rehabilitation.
Siemian landed on his shoulder during a first-quarter sack by Colts linebacker Barkevious Mingo on Thursday night and, after a quick examination on the bench, was carted to the locker room for further testing.
Brock Osweiler took over at quarterback and guided the Broncos to four scoring drives during a 25-13 comeback victory at Indianapolis. He finished 12-of-17 passing for 194 yards, two passing touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, zero interceptions and a 147.7 rating in what was arguably the finest showing of his pro career.
Paxton Lynch was inactive Thursday and had been the previous two games because of an ankle sprain. The Broncos' 2016 first-round pick was injured in his lone start this season, a loss in Oakland, and was initially expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks to recover. He is expected to be medically cleared by Sunday and will return to practice in full next week.
The decision on who will start Dec. 24 against Washington will be made next week.
"We've got two healthy guys there," Joseph said. "We're going to have a staff meeting on Monday morning and kind of see who's best for us. Obviously, Paxton being a young guy, we want to see him play more. So that part will have some bearing there. Brock played really well last night. He made some big-time throws, his leadership showed, he played with great poise, he took care of the football. So that's going to be a long and hard conversation."
Because of injury and performance, the Broncos rotated starting quarterbacks three times this season, with all three players taking turns as the backup and as the inactive quarterback on game days. Siemian's latest injury leaves the team with only two true quarterbacks on the roster and on the brink of a fourth swap for the starting job.
Despite their now-depleted quarterback corps, Joseph said the team "probably won't" add a third quarterback to the roster for the final two games. Jordan Taylor, the Broncos' receiver and starting punt returner, has also served as their emergency safety and emergency quarterback and will be their unofficial third QB on game days.
"We got some toss plays for him, we got some quick-game that we've taught Jordan over the last couple of months," Joseph said. "He is our emergency quarterback, so we won't bring a guy in to be the third. It'll be Jordan on game day. If we lose two guys, he's in."
As the Broncos have breezed through starters and shelved young players at other positions, Joseph has said repeatedly that he will play the players who give the team the best chance to win. When asked if that also applies to Lynch in the determination for the next starting quarterback, Joseph indicated his situation differs. More is at stake: the Broncos' present and their future.
"At quarterback, we have to kind of see where we are there. That's obviously a major decision moving to the offseason in my opinion, when it comes to the quarterback," Joseph said. "Now, we're not going to forfeit games. Whoever plays the quarterback position, we want to win the football game, whether it's Paxton or if it's Brock."
Had Siemian remained healthy, Joseph said it was "very possible" that they would have turned to Lynch anyway, as a starter or simply to get more chances to see him play before they head into the offseason.
As the Broncos look ahead to their next quarterback for the next two weeks and beyond, Siemian ends his third NFL season with an already lengthy injury history and an unknown future. Early last season he suffered an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, but finished out the season and underwent corrective surgery afterward. Since the start of 2016, he has dealt with injuries to both shoulders, and suffered a foot injury that sidelined him for one game.
Siemian has one year remaining on his rookie deal and carries a cap hit of about $718,000 for 2018. Depending on which direction the Broncos go in the offseason, they could decide to keep Siemian since he costs very little, or try to gauge his trade value.
Though he won the starting job in August after a second consecutive offseason competition and guided Denver to a 3-1 start this season, Siemian was benched after four consecutive losses. The Broncos handed the keys to Osweiler, who started three games before getting benched, too.
Lynch's lone start lasted less than three quarters before he headed to the sideline with the ankle injury. Siemian closed out the loss at Oakland, regained the starting role, then watched his run end in similar fashion.
Now the Broncos are back at the drawing board. Either Osweiler or Lynch will get their second chance as the Broncos' quarterback carousel continues to spin round and round and round.