This is the time of year when rampant speculation is news. Profootballtalk.com has become the TMZ of the NFL (does that make Mike Florio the Perez Hilton of the NFL?). Most blogs are doing their best to help. Sports news (not just NFL news) has become a race to report news, regardless of how newsworthy said "news" really is. I've always felt that, for the most part, MHR does a good job not getting too caught up in all of the unfounded rumor mongering that happens on most sites, newspapers, and cable stations. However, this is the time of year when we are most susceptible to the Sarlacc Pit that is the NFL gossip machine. We're weak. We're desperate for information. More than anything, we want something more than theoretical to sink our teeth into.
I'd like to do my best to separate fact from fiction on a few topics. Or at very least separate the founded from the unfounded.
There is no empirical evidence that Brandon Marshall's going anywhere. The Seahawks have had discussions with the Broncos about Marshall. But that's all that we know for sure. Forget everything else. Has Pete Carroll specifically said that they are trying to figure out how to get Marshall on their roster without giving up the #6 overall pick? No. He hasn't. I'm sure the Seahawks aren't the only team that has talked to Denver about Marshall, but they are the only team being vocal about it. It seems almost as though the Seattle brain trust is doing their best to make sure their fanbase knows that they're trying to improve the talent level on the team, even though they really haven't done anything. Denver wants a first round pick for Marshall, that is supported by fact. If nobody offers Denver a first round pick, and Marshall wants to play pro football in 2010, then Marshall will sign his tender and rejoin his Broncos teammates.
My Opinion:Best case scenario for Denver is if Marshall signs his tender because nobody offers Denver their #1 pick in return. It's humbling for Marshall to not only see how the rest of the league values him, but also to think back to when he turned down Denver's previous contract offer so he could test the market.
There is no evidence that should lead you to believe that there is competition for the starter job in Denver in 2010. In fact, McDaniels has said that Orton is, without a doubt, his starter going into the 2010 season. I know Quinn is somewhat of a big name player, but he hasn't done anything as a professional player, and at Notre Dame, couldn't complete more than 60% (He was 59.9% for his college career) of his passes against vastly inferior (compared to the NFL) talent. Until he proves that his accuracy is vastly improved and that he has grown mentally, he won't even get a chance to compete for the starter role.
My Opinion:Best case scenario for Denver is that Brady Quinn blossoms under McDaniels' and McCoy's tutelage. There is short term upside as a backup, as Orton has proved that staying healthy for 16 games is a challenge for him, but don't expect Quinn to start for Denver in 2010 if Orton is 80% or better. Ideally Quinn steadily improves and pushes Orton (or whoever is here) for the starter job in 2011 or beyond. If Quinn improves, Denver will have either a potential starter or valuable trade bait, or both.
McDaniels proved last year that all bets are off on draft day. Unlike the Shanahan years, the fans, even the thinking-man's crowd, can't predict what players McDaniels targets. Common sense says that Denver should target interior offensive linemen, an inside linebacker, defensive linemen, and potentially a quarterback. But common sense doesn't mean anything. McDaniels has a plan and he's hoping to execute it with clock-like precision. He doesn't feel the need to share his plan with the fans or the media (maybe even Pat Bowlen). And rightfully so. There are players and draft positions that McDaniels covets and regardless of who the team has interviewed or worked-out, don't get caught looking. Just admit that you know a few positions that should get filled, but when and with who are completely unknown. There are no facts that suggest that Denver is seriously looking at drafting a quarterback or any specific player at any position, for that matter.
My Opinion:If there's an avenue to pe pursued, McDaniels will pursue it. He will leave no stone unturned and no scenario ill-considered. He has plans and backup plans for everything. If everything stays static on the roster, we know that Denver could use a center. We also know that Denver could use an inside linebacker. There are also depth, youth, and talent needs at defensive line and running back. I love the mock drafts and the theoretical discussion that they often lead into, but I wouldn't bet on any of them getting more than one draft pick correct.
Side Note: It's been a while since I last posted, but I just wanted to say that MHR is a phenomenal community. Next month is my 2 year AnniMHRsary (came to the site in April of 2008), and this site has done nothing but become a more robust and passionate news and analysis source than any other channel available to a die-hard Broncos fan. Keep up the great work everyone. It's blogs like this that are crippling ESPN, The Denver Post, and others and it's because we've created an actual fan community without pandering to the lowest common denominator or sacrificing credibility for buzz, which is something that the mainstram channels will never be able to accomplish this day in age.