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Potential Signing of Matt Roth is not an Indictment on Robert Ayers

Another defensive end on the market, and once again the Broncos are rumored to be interested. According to Jason La Canfora, one of the top defensive linemen on the free agent market and arguably the best free agent still available--former Cleveland and Miami defensive end/linebacker Matt Roth--is considering the Denver Broncos among a couple of other teams.

When I initially put this information out as a Fan Post, there were a lot of people wondering why the Broncos would look at a 3-4 outside linebacker, and it seemed that even though Roth has been really good the last two years, people didn't seem to know who he was or what he was capable of.

Roth really came into his own in 2009 after being cut by the Dolphins mid-season, then signing on with the Browns and playing for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. It turned out to be a great career move for Roth, as he really succeeded in the 3-4 scheme and seemingly revitalized his career.

The Broncos have been a lot more active this year in free agency and trading than it seems like they have been, adding four new defensive linemen to the fray in seemingly the blink of an eye. In just a couple of days, the Broncos brought in Jeremy Jarmon, Derrick Harvey, Ty Warren, and Brodrick Bunkley, and they also re-signed Marcus Thomas. These moves aren't going to make national headlines, but for the Broncos, they are definite upgrades.

Now, the team is exploring another defensive end option, and some are asking whether or not this means they are not pleased with Robert Ayers. In my opinion, looking into signing extra pass rushers is more evidence that the Broncos feel like they have a good thing going up front than an indictment of Ayers.

Looking at those five linemen I just mentioned along with Ayers, the Broncos are also getting Elvis Dumervil back this year, as well as adding Von Miller to the fray and re-signing Kevin Vickerson and Ryan McBean. Aside from Ayers and Dumervil (starters), look at the Broncos' defensive end depth. David Veikune, Jason Hunter, Jeremy Beal, and the aforementioned Harvey. Aside from Hunter, what one of those guys has proven he can get to the quarterback in the NFL?

Heck, you can't even say Ayers has proven he can get to the quarterback in the NFL. I saw improvement last year, but to make him the only legitimate defensive end on the roster when we go into the regular season? I don't think that's such a good idea.

Enter the interest of Roth, who would undoubtedly play strong-side end for us. Here is his bio and scouting report courtesy of SB Nation:

Matt Roth

Cleveland Browns

1982/10/14 28

6-4 275

Villa Park, IL


the Miami Dolphins in 2005 (2nd round)

Scouting Report

  • An intense, high-motor player. Has great initial quickness, agility and lower-body strength. Can bullrush a bigger blocker and is a big hitter. Versatile.
  • Can get overaggressive. Plays tall and loses leverage at times. Isn't outstanding in re-direction and must get to the quarterback with his first move. Somewhat injury-prone.

Roth has 20 career sacks to his name, and he is consistently improving after a slow start to his career and then a somewhat dead spot there in the middle. What the Broncos need to do up front is create a fearsome rotation, not just a starting four that we can all get on board with. It's the depth along the defensive line that will give the Broncos true longevity at the position this season. Look at teams like the New York Giants (probably the most unfair example) who simply stock up on defensive linemen until the good ones have to ask to leave (see Umenyiora).

In my opinion, signing Roth is not essential but it's encouraging that the Broncos have shown interest in him, and are allegedly in his top three choices. He would probably start over Ayers--at least at first--but both guys would see significant playing time. Ayers can kick inside on passing downs where he will be effective as a bull rusher. Neither has outstanding quickness off the edge, but both can set the edge, and I think it would provide the Broncos with another legitimate pass rush option to add to their already good-looking group.