The Championship Puzzle


Ah yes, The pieces to a puzzle take time to put together. You see a beautiful picture on a box, but all you have is a bunch of pieces of cardboard that somehow are supposed to fit together. You have to sort through the pieces and see how they all interlock. Slowly but surely, with patience, the picture starts to take shape.

John Elway inherited a team that went 4-12 and had a lot of missing pieces. He had a vision in mind, and knew what he wanted the championship picture to look like. As the last couple of offseasons have unfolded, he has gathered the right pieces, and the coaches are making it fit together beautifully. We thought it was complete last year, but there are a few pieces that didn't quite fit like we thought. Elway is doing what he can to complete the championship picture.

I for one enjoy the putting together of a roster. And to see the front office fill out this lineup, and looking to make them into a champion is fun to watch. We shall see with the upcoming draft, and remaining free agency, what is done to put the best possible 53 together. But I do have my trust in the front office.

That wasn't the case a year ago. The days leading up to the draft brought much anticipation and expectation. And looking at the way the first few rounds played out, I could hardly have been more frustrated. Yet, the many voices of reason on this site, despite the many fans who overreacted as I had, made me change my perspective. Trust the front office they said. They know more than we do.. And of course they do. And the draft played out better than I thought. Derek Wolfe played solid all year long, and other draftees showed promise. And even if there was certain things I would have preferred to play out differently, I saw that Elway was putting together a good franchise, built to win now, while preparing for the future. Holes that needed to be filled were filled through veteran free agent signings. And a team got thru the struggles of the first five and a half games, and became championship caliber. Now Elway will work to put on the finishing touches.

As this draft approaches my expectations are different from last years. There are certain players that I like, and positions that I would like addressed. But in the end, I shall trust the FO to know more than myself...

But another perspective on this is to look at not only building a champion now, but keeping the championship puzzle together. This could be quite the challenge looking at some of the free agents to be next year.

-Ryan Clady

-Eric Decker

-Wesley Woodyard

- Chris Harris

-Tony Carter

-Zane Beadles

- J.D. Walton

- Robert Ayers

- Trindon Holliday

-Stewart Bradley

-Dominique Rogers-Cromartie (voidable contract)

Im sure they would love to hang onto all of these guys. But as we can imagine, that won't be an easy thing to do. Looking at the contracts for next year, they are at about 100 million. So if the cap stays at 123 million, that would put them under the cap by 23 million. That obviously makes it pretty tight when you consider half of that could go towards Clady's long term deal that they hope to get done before this season starts. With the free agent market a little different this year, it is hard to say what it would take to sign guys like Decker, Woodyard, and Harris. But they will have some decisions to make.

Looking at some of the active contracts next year, tho, there should be some flexibility. There are a number of multi- million dollar contracts with minimal dead money. Here are a couple of contracts that the Broncos may likely get rid of that are a part of that 100 million dollar figure:

Joe Mays- 4.6 - Joe Mays is not even expected to make the roster this year. So this can be added to our projected general cap space number

Chris Kuper- 5.9- Kuper's injury concerns prompted the Broncos to sign Louis Vasquez, who's cap number will be 7.25 next year. They will more than likely be patient to see what happens with Kupes recovery. But it seems likely that he will have to restructure or move on.

Willis McGahee- 2.5- The aging back will have to earn a spot on this years roster. Next year it seems likely that Denver will have some younger backs in place, and Willis will likely be done.

Here are a few guys who may also be expendable next year:

Jacob Tamme- 3.8- Tamme has no dead money associated with his contract next year. I think with the addition of Welker and the improvement of Virgil Green, Tamme would be a likely casualty in order to keep some of the other free agents.

Joel Dreesen-3.3- A similar situation with Dreesen. He is set to make a little less. He is a little bit better of a blocker than Tamme, while Tamme may be a little better as a receiver.

Matt Prater-3.8- Prater is going to have to have a better year this year. They gave him a pretty good payday for a kicker. But he was pretty inconsistent last year. If he repeats that, it is likely that they shed his contract which also has no dead money.

So they do have some flexibility. If Kupe, Mays, and McGahee go, that frees up 13 million. That should pay for Harris and Woodyard and hopefully more. Maybe they like the development of the young TE's and let one of or both Tamme and Dreesen go. This would allow for some money to put towards Decker. Whatever the case, they will have some decisions on who they want to keep and who they do not mind letting go. It certainly helps us to see why they didn't want to overpay for Dumervil.

This also affects my view of this years draft. I am pretty open-minded about what positions I would like the Broncos to draft. I would love a fast DE to play opposite of Von. I would like a nice ball-hawking safety who could add some thump to the defense. But even if they use some picks on positions that I wouldn't necessarily prefer, it could work towards keeping the core of this team together next year.

Just as an example. I do not want them to draft Tyler Eifert in the first round. And I highly doubt they draft Tyler Eifert in the first round. But lets say they did draft the Notre Dame TE. That would make perhaps both Tamme and Dreesen expendable next year. And make it more likely to keep Decker at home...Or as a better example, if someone like Tavon Austin falls to #28, and they pick him up, he would be the #4 WR on the depth chart. Definitely not my position of choice in the first round. But it would make Decker expendable and you could spend the money on keeping some of the other guys.

There may be some spots on the offensive and defensive line that we think need to be addressed, but as we saw last year, they will look to add some veterans to fill up the roster if the need may be. So I just thought I would offer my perspective as the draft approaches... It is fun to see the pieces of this puzzle come together. There is some work to do. But the picture is becoming more clear. Let's watch Elway put together the championship vision he has had in mind all along. A picture he will work to keep intact for years to come.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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