Wow, folks, what a day. The Denver Broncos news cycle was on high output today with the signing of Legendary NFL QB Peyton Manning. I can't recall this kind of media supernova since, well, since Tebow's amazing string of comeback wins. Or trading Jay Cutler. Or Cutler replacing Plummer as starter. Or firing Mike Shanahan. Come to think of it, is there an NFL franchise that has had more "big news" than Denver over the past 5 seasons? Other than Super Bowl winners of course.
In any case, with all of the concepts, ideas, and reactions ricocheting around my cranium throughout the day, I thought I would just lay down some bullet points and get it off my chest.
- How bummed is Eddie Royal today. He "survives" the Tebow experiment yet (at least in part due to the scheme stemming from Tebow's skillset) enters Free Agency after a very low-production year. He signs with division rival San Diego - who certainly coveted him after the ST and receiving damage he has done to them over the past few years (remember the back-to-back Cutler-Royal TD's a couple years back - the "Hochuli" game?). Only to find out a few days later that one of the greatest QB's ever has displaced Tebow as starter - and is playing in the same division? Ouch. That's gotta hurt. Which is a bummer, because I wish Eddie Royal the BEST moving forward - except twice a year of course.
- I never hit the panic button with Denver's lack of activity in Free Agency. It is tough for us Armchair GM's to watch known talent go by in the frenzied first week. But we are a team that is not at all bereft of mid-level talent. We need some cornerstones, some superstars, to really upgrade the roster and those come by rarely. I didn't really see any in this year's FA crop - although a lot of guys sure got contracts that would contradict my position. I think our best pickups will be in the next week or two as the market settles, with the draft, and then after roster cuts post-draft.
- I am thrilled that we have begun to re-sign some guys, including Mays and Woodyard. There is a lot to be said for continuity on Defense, and both guys - though certainly with some deficiencies in their games - have really strong skills. Both are young, both should improve, and especially with all the change coming on O it will be nice to see some simple continuity and building on D.
- I love Tim Tebow. I am going to miss that guy if the Broncos move him. I believe they will, regardless of whether they view him as a strong developmental candidate. They did the same thing with Orton (they had many millions of additional reasons beyond good faith, but still...) I will follow Tim's career as a player in the NFL, and I somehow believe I will follow him just as closely after he is done playing. He is a pretty rare individual, brings an infectious and wholesome enthusiasm to his interactions with people from all walks of life, and seems to infect people with goodwill overall. Last season was an immensely rewarding time to be a Bronco fan, thanks to Tim Tebow.
- I love the signing of S Mike Adams. To me, we got a guy who can spell Dawkins or provide insurance if he decides to retire. We have someone who is roster-positioned to be shoved aside by young up-and-comers Moore, Carter, and Bruton, but we also have a proven performer who could beat out any of those aforementioned players fair and square. In my view, that's how you do Free Agency.
- Unless of course, Peyton Manning happens.
- The only thing that would really take me aback right now would be letting Bunkley walk. I simply do not see how we replace a guy of that importance at this stage in the game. We can draft a big body, but we all know DT is at least a 3-year learning curve. I have extremely high hopes of Ty Warren returning to the force he was in NE, but I would feel much better if Bunkley was donning the Orange and Blue.
- Want to know my sleeper Comeback Player of the Year? I think Manning's presence - the backing off of DB's, the scheme changes I expect to see, the LB's playing on their heels a little bit - is going to create the possibility of a complete re-making of Knowshon Moreno. I have heard talk of us signing Joseph Addai. Why? We already have him! His name is Knowshon. Strong blocker, soft hands, occasional shake-and-break potential, average RB.
- I could be wrong, and might simply be reading too much into the media's overall interpretation of the primary reasons for Manning's decision (advanced prior to him actually making his decision), but I see Manning's signing as a huge vote of confidence for Decker and for Thomas. Particularly with DT, I don't recall Manning ever having this type of receiver to throw to. Seems to me like Polian had a prototype - a certain height/weight/speed/hands combo that he strove to fulfill - and never invested the draft capital to get a Demaryius Thomas-type player. In DT, Manning will have a very large, very shifty YAC guy with world-class speed. Look out, league! In Decker, I think he has Reggie Wayne 2.0. Some length, some speed, but great body control and route running.
- This is a good time to mention Mike Wallace. We can have him for a very strong contract offer and our first round pick. To me? DO IT! The guy is an A+ receiver. Given a QB with Manning's accuracy and ability to deliver a ball in stride, and given a DT on the other side of the field, I believe he will break every Broncos WR record in the book next season. What an amazing threat he would be.
- Dallas Clark, on the other hand, NO WAY. We have three developing TE's on the roster, every single one of whom I believe is faster, younger, stronger, and cheaper than Dallas Clark and all of whom need time on the field. We have to stick with youth and development in a cross-section of areas and TE (along with S, CB, and OL in my opinion) is the perfect place to start. Jeff Saturday? NO WAY. Stick with JD Walton. You think he'll get better playing with Manning? I do. No matter the sacrifice today, we have to adhere to team-building to whatever extent is possible.
- In the draft, I hope to see 2-3 candidates for starting (although you tell me who a rookie is going to beat out, other than CB, RB, or DL). Beyond that, I really want to see high-ceiling developmental candidates that truly will not be expected to be ready to start in 2012. Pick your position - I don't care - just show me the Broncos are truly preparing for life after Peyton Manning.
- I have heard the name Roc Alexander more in the past 24 hours than I have in the prior 40 years combined.
- When I grew up, Otis Armstrong lived 3 doors down from me. Craig Morton lived a block away. Ron Egloff and Steve Foley 2 blocks over. Later we moved to a different neighborhood, not far from what is now Dove Valley. In that neighborhood lived Steve Watson and Karl Mecklenburg. Several years later, John Elway moved in up the hill. I can't help but wonder what part of town Peyton Manning and his wife and his twin 1-year old daughters will love to. He picked Denver - not just the Broncos - he picked Denver.
- Kudos to Mile High Report and all its participants for a really well-conceived and admirable array of opinions and debates over the past 2 weeks. This signing is a singularity in NFL history, and I have enjoyed engaging with you all over it. Ciao for now.