The Broncos have trimmed the fat, and now are starting to trim some bone. Seven players the past 2 days. Four of them were defensive starters and another was signed as a free agent to be a starter. Needless to say, it has left some holes and signals that the Broncos are in transition on the field after a ton of instability off it.
With $25 million in cap space, 9 draft picks in April, and several available openings, Denver will likely be a desired location for the free agent crop this spring. How much of that money the Broncos will actually spend remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that new G.M. Brian Xanders and Head Coach Josh McDaniels are setting about changing the culture of the team from the inside out. The only question I have is how far will they actually go?
Back in October, I raised what I thought was a fair question. Should the Broncos consider moving arguably their best player, Champ Bailey, if the deal is right? The outlash was severe, as I expected it to be, but it was a fair statement. Bailey is likely looking for 1 more big contract, and with 2 years remaining on his deal the request to restructure is only a matter of time. As Bailey sat out much of the middle and latter parts of the season with a groin injury, the sentiment to investigate a trade involving Bailey grew. After missing the playoffs, firing most of the coaching staff and front office and cutting most of the veteran presence on defense, the question in my mind, is more pertinent than ever.
Simply put, the Broncos would be foolish NOT to take a look at moving Bailey. Not just for themselves, but for Champ as well. Now before you start with the comments, I will say this. We do not know if Champ even wants to be moved. He may be perfectly happy playing for a team that is transitioning to younger players, a new scheme on both sides of the ball, along with a new coaching staff. If that is the case, so be it. I am fine with it. I also know Bailey desperately wants to play for a Super Bowl, and the clock is ticking.
When listening to and reading about Brian Xanders' press conference on Monday, I took notice that the Broncos are still looking to stockpile draft picks. Along with the 9 this year, the Broncos possess 8 in 2010. The correct way to build a team is through the draft, and besides, having multiple draft picks provides a team with flexibility should they want to make a move and get a player they want, rookie or otherwise. If Bailey were to net, let's say, a 2nd-round pick in 2009 and a 4th-rounder in 2010, would you take it?
Part of the problem lies with the ghosts of drafts past for Denver. With 2008 being the exception, us fans have not had a lot to cheer about when it comes to draft picks. Hell, the Broncos got into this mess in the first place because of their failures in the draft, forcing Mike Shanahan to overpay free agents. With team "McXanders" at the helm, my hope is that will change for the better and the Broncos will do it the right way. I have faith, because Josh McDaniels learned from the best -- Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli. They used the draft to their advantage, hoarding draft picks when necessary, dealing them when necessary. Look no further than 2008, when the Pats still had a Top-15 pick even though they lost their 1st-rounder as punishment for "Spy-Gate". That pick netted New England LB Jarod Mayo, and all he did was win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
That kind of "draft manipulation" is what I am looking for from McXanders and why the Broncos need to at least think about moving Champ.
There are financial issues to consider, and the backlash from a fan base still shocked over what has already transpired, but the Broncos have gone young - on the field and off - and their outlook is long-term. That doesn't mean losing, it means that every move made now is done with one eye towards the future, an uncertain future in and out of the NFL.