Case Keenum was deemed unworthy of a draft pick by all 32 NFL teams in 2012.
Since then, he’s been traded for a slew of late-round picks, prompting Keenum to joke that he considers himself a late-round pick, and his most recent move has put him in a position that he deems perfect. In Buffalo, Keenum is ready to serve as the backup quarterback to dynamite signal-caller Josh Allen in 2022, proving that the Bills didn’t just settle for him; they wanted him.
“To have a team come grab you and not be released and go sign somewhere, they wanted me, they traded for me,” Keenum said, according to the Buffalo News. “Having a squad like this, with the kind of players, talent on the team, the sort of offense they run, and what Josh has been able to do, it feels wonderful.” It’s been great to be able to come here and learn and enhance my game, as well as move out of my comfort zone and learn some new offense.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with it.” It might have been a surprise at the time, but man, it’s full of excitement and ready to go now. I’ve been looking forward to getting here and starting work. It’s been an outstanding spring.”
Keenum had his moments to seize a starting job in his nine-year career and did so in Minnesota out of necessity for close to a full season in 2017. Things didn’t work out in Denver, when he was given the starting job a year later, or in Washington, but Keenum has since established himself as a reliable backup quarterback. He won’t be expected to go win you a game, but he also won’t be expected to lose you one.
That’s exactly what Keenum did for the Browns in his second and final season in Cleveland, in 2021. Keenum filled in for the injured Baker Mayfield on two occasions and led the Browns to two victories, but the Browns’ quarterback depth chart was remade with the addition of Deshaun Watson, and the Bills took advantage of the opportunity to add an experienced passer.
Keenum was traded from a team that was hoping to compete to one that was hoping to win the Super Bowl. Allen, as well as the presence of a face familiar to Keenum: receiver Steffon Diggs, play a big role in those objectives.
Keenum and Diggs once connected for one of the most memorable plays in Vikings franchise history, a 61-yard desperation heave that produced a game-winning touchdown on the final play of the Vikings’ Divisional Round win over the Saints in the 2017 season. The “Minneapolis Miracle” was born from that moment, and if Keenum is called upon to fill in for Allen again, he’ll be hoping for more magic with his old pal.
“At first, we both agreed it’s just kind of weird,” Keenum said of reuniting with Diggs. “It was such a magical year for us. It had only been a year. It was like six months together, so to be able to get back together with him — heck, I’ve played with almost everybody on the team — every team I’ve been on, I’ve got guys here that I played with. But yeah, to get back with Stef, give him a hug and throw him the ball again, I didn’t really think I would ever do that. I wasn’t sure after that year, so it’s exciting to get to be able to do that.”
This year, excitement is the dominant theme in Buffalo. The Bills fell short of their goal in a thrilling, but heartbreaking loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round last season, and they expect to return to that stage with the hopes of advancing this time around.