There has been a fair amount of discussion on various sites as to which players the Broncos should target in the draft and which ones they should pursue during free agency. I thought it might be appropriate in the midst of that discussion to spend a little time taking a look at Denver's own free agents and their contributions to the Broncos. Then we'll ask the question: Do the Broncos Fight for Him or Let Him Walk?
Before we begin, I'd like to take a moment to clarify some terms, specifically "unrestricted free agent (UFA)," "restricted free agent (RFA)" and "exclusive rights free agent." Please be aware that I am not going to present an in-depth description of each category but rather offer up a quick "thumbnail" look at each.
Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) - Simply put, this is a player who: (a)has four accrued service years with the NFL, (b)is not currently under contract with an NFL team, (c)is free to negotiate a contract with any NFL team and (d)whose previous team is not entitled to any compensation for the player's signing with a new team.
Restricted Free Agent (RFA) - While the Collective Bargaining Agreement specifies several "levels" to this category, at its simplest, an RFA is a player who: (a)has three accrued service years with the NFL, (b)is not currently under contract with any team, (c)has been given a "qualifying offer" by his previous team, (d)is free to negotiate a contract with a new team, but (d)must remain with his previous team if that team matches the player's offer from a new team. If the player's previous team declines to match the offer, it is entitled to compensation.
Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA) - Simply put, this is a player who: (a)has only two accrued service years with the NFL, (b)must stay with his previous team, if that team makes him an offer at the three-year veteran minimum salary. If that player chooses to decline the offer from his previous team, he is not allowed to negotiate a new contract with any other NFL team.
First up for Denver's free agents:
Dan Koppen, Center, UFA
Koppen has been in the NFL for ten seasons. 2012 was his first season with the Broncos. He was released by the New England Patriots during their final cuts on August 31, 2012. He signed a one-year contract with the Broncos on September 10, 2012. He played in fifteen games with twelve starts, replacing center J. D. Walton after Walton went down with an ankle injury.
He was part of an offensive line that was awarded the Madden Most Valuable Protectors Award for their performance versus New Orleans on October 28, 2012. In that game, the offensive line did not allow a sack and gave up just one quarterback hit. The line also helped the Broncos rush for 225 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Next Up: Brandon Stokley, Wide Receiver, UFA