Mario Haggan joined the Broncos as a free agent on November 4, 2008, and played in the last eight games of that season. The following year, Haggan became the first NFL player to start all sixteen games in a season after not having a single start in seventy-three or more games.
After coming to the Broncos from Buffalo as a free agent in 2008, Haggan started all thirty-two games in 2009 and 2010 -- first as a left outside linebacker, then as a right inside linebacker. He was fourth on the team in tackles in 2009 with 63 total tackles and second on the team in 2010 with 87 total tackles. In his first three seasons in the orange and blue he recorded seven sacks and five forced fumbles. With the return to a 4-3 base defense under new Head Coach John Fox, Haggan logged only one start in fifteen games in 2011 -- though he also recorded the first interception of his nine year career during the 2011 campaign.
|2011 - Mario Haggan||16||0||0||1||16||1||13||10||23|
Haggan was a three-year starter at Mississippi State University and led his team in tackles each of those years. He was selected by Buffalo in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL draft. He appeared in just one game as a rookie. He appeared in every Buffalo game from 2004 to 2007 but did not record a single start. He did not start a game until 2009. He appeared in all sixteen games in 2011 but did not start until replacing Von Miller against Minnesota. In that game, he led the team with twelve tackles and recorded a game high three tackles for loss. He also returned an interception for a touchdown.
Haggan presents something of a problem for the Broncos. Despite his starting all thirty-two games in 2009-10, the Fox regime obviously saw him as a backup player in 2011. Add that to the fact that the Broncos currently have nine linebackers on their roster (including the Reserve/Future list) -- Haggan, Iwuh, Irving, Mays, Mohamed, Miller, Williams, Woodyard, Obiozor -- and someone will have to go. Haggan is the oldest of that group of nine. It would not surprise me to see the Broncos make a play for Woodyard and let Haggan go.
If resigned, it is projected that Haggan would make a minimum of $925,000. While he is a competent backup, I'm not sure the money could not be better spent elsewhere.
Pros: A strong, intelligent player with an excellent build for a middle linebacker position. Has the experience of a defensive end. An excellent run-stopper with decent pass rushing skills. Is always around the ball carrier.
Cons: Suffered a number of ankle injuries in college. Slow for a linebacker, or even defensive end. Lacks the size for a defensive end and the speed for a linebacker.
WHAT TO DO?
Given that Haggan will most likely be a backup/special teams player again in 2011, it is questionable whether or not he's worth investing $925,000 in a limited role, nine-year veteran. He might be worth keeping around to push the younger linebackers during OTAs, mini camps and training camp.