According to all 32 NFL teams, Case Keenum wasn’t worth a draft pick in 2012.
He’s since been traded for a handful of late-round picks — leading Keenum to joke that he considers himself a late-round selection — and the latest deal brought him to a situation the quarterback sees as ideal. Keenum is preparing to serve as the 2022 backup to dynamite signal-caller Josh Allen in Buffalo, home to a team that proved it didn’t just settle for his services — it wanted Keenum.
“Honestly, to have a team come get you and not get released and go sign somewhere, they wanted me, they traded for me,” Keenum said, via the Buffalo News. “It feels great to have a team like this, the caliber of players, the talent on the team, the type of offense they run, what Josh has been able to do. To be able to come and learn and grow my game and get myself out of my comfort zone and learn some new offense has been really good.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot. It may have been a little bit of a surprise at the time, but man, it’s full excitement, ready to go. I’ve been excited to get here and work. It’s been a great spring .”
Keenum had his moments to seize a starting job in his nine-year career and so did in Minnesota out of necessity for close to a full season in 2017. Things didn’t work out in Denver, a team that deemed him worthy of its starting job a year later, or in Washington, but Keenum has since settled in as a dependable backup quarterback. He won’t be expected to go win you a game, but he likely won’t lose you one, either.
That’s exactly what Keenum did for the Browns in 2021, the second and final season he spent in Cleveland. Keenum stepped in for the injured Baker Mayfield on two occasions and led the Browns to two victories, but the acquisition of Deshaun Watson meant Cleveland would remake its quarterback depth chart, and the Bills capitalized on an opportunity to add an experienced passer.
The deal sent Keenum from a team hoping to contend to one expecting to chase a Super Bowl. Allen has a lot to do with those ambitions, as does the presence of a face that’s quite familiar to Keenum: receiver Stefon Diggs.
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. That moment became known as the “Minneapolis Miracle,” and Keenum should be called upon to step in for Allen once again, he’ll hope to make more magic with his old pal.
“We both said at first it’s just kind of weird,” Keenum said of joining forces with Diggs once again. “We had such a fairy tale year. It wasn’t even 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.”
Excitement is the prevailing theme in Buffalo this year. 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.
When that time comes, they’ll have a veteran available to lend his wisdom on how to navigate the high-pressure moments of the postseason. After all, he’s already made his own magic.