After the Broncos make the much anticipated decision on the unusually vacant head coach position, there are many steps needed to overhaul this team (specifically defense) to get back to playing in January. Whoever takes the reigns needs to make the most of this off season. There are options in free agency and hopefully it will be the last time in the near future that the Broncos will be drafting as high as number 12. Looking at Free Agency, there are specific players and positions that need to be targeted.
Albert Haynesworth- Haynesworth should be the most coveted free agent this off season. Unfortunately, Tennessee is already in the process of attempting to lock up Haynesworth before he ever makes the monster splash. Haynesworth seems to have cleaned up his act, and has never really been amidst major controversy despite the atrocious "foot stomp". Haynesworth is the ultimate space eater, and would take immense pressure off a pass rushing DE like Dumervil, and the LB core. Not only does he instantly improve the players around him, he had 51 total tackles and 8.5 sacks from the DT position! An improvement from his tremendous 2007 campaign. Haynesworth will become one of (if not the highest) paid defensive player in the league, and he is one the Broncos should throw the bank towards.
Terrell Suggs- Suggs is an outside LB that has been playing defensive end this year to much success for the Baltimore Ravens. Suggs is a better option then Julius Peppers being that he is two years younger, and will come at a lower price tag. Suggs has 68 total tackles, 8 sacks and two interceptions in his first year playing the position. Suggs being a LB by nature can track the ball above average for a defensive end, something the Broncos desperately need on the outside.
Karlos Dansby- The days of Nate Webster, Jamie Winborn (Played better than expected), and Niko Koutouvides manning the LB core need to end. DJ Williams when healthy, is as good as they get at Weakside Linebacker. Woodyard showed he can play in this league, but do the Broncos move DJ once again to get him on the field? Woodyard will not work at Safety, and has not been tested at the other LB positions. Dansby has been consistent on an anything but consistent Arizona defense the last 4 years. He has recored 80 plus tackes (119 this year), 3 plus sacks, 2 plus forced fumbles, and 8 total interceptions. He has potential to be great with his building track record, age, and size( 6'4, 250).
Mike Brown- This one will send many peoples heads spinning, but Mike Brown is undeniably one of the best Safeties in the league when healthy. The problem is, he never seems to be healthy. Brown has gone on the IR 4 of the last 5 years (albeit it was just the final two games of this year) with various injuries. If the Broncos can land Brown for a low low price tag, the potential reward for 12-14 games healthy out of Brown is well worth it. The last thing anyones eyes need to endure is Manuel and Lowry playing Safety anymore.
Derrick Ward- Derrick Ward is the "wind" portion of the New York Giants RB trio. This off season Ward and Jacobs are set to become free agents. The Giants will most likely sign Jacobs to a high price tag and let Ward get his fair share of carries somewhere else. While Ward is already 28 years old, the mileage on his wheels is not remotely close to the average 28 year old RB. Ward is a fast RB, with a big body. Not only can he break away from people, he can run them over. The last two seasons and the only two where Ward has received significant carries, he has averaged 4.8 and 5.6 YPC respectively. Ward cracked the 1,000 yard mark this last year despite only registering 182 carries. Ward has also proven himself as a threat to catch the football. This last season Ward brought in 41 catches. A reliable check down option for Cutler might limit some of his gunslinger tendencies. Pair Ward with Hillis, and bam! A fantastic combo.
It is very important that the Broncos address the RB position in Free Agency. While Moreno or Beanie Wells would be fabulous additions, the defensive side of the ball needs so much attention on the first day of the draft. To sign Ward or Sproles saves a pick for the defense. If the Broncos must draft a RB in the first three rounds, Green from Iowa, Ringer from MSU, or Spiller from Clemson in the third round would be some of the best options.
Other Free Agent options that I did not write about that I would like to see in Orange and Blue: Darren Sproles (look at ChristianL's Wishlist), Jonathan Vilma, Nnamdi Asomugha, Bertrand Berry...
If Denver can land any sort of combination of these players they will be immensely improved (depending on the success of the head coach hire). The Broncs must get pressure on the quarterback. Adding Haynesworth, and Suggs would really allow the Broncos to get after the QB. They would also take pressure of Dumervil, who can still be an effective DE in this league. Most importantly this helps Champ and Dre. To a successful signing period!