Building a Super Bowl roster isn't easy. It took the Denver Broncos 15 years to rebuild a roster worthy of returning to the Super Bowl, and even then, they came up 35 points short.
So one couldn't blame Denver Broncos General Manager John Elway for reacting to that loss with a single-minded focus of building the best possible roster now, without regard to years down the line. As Peyton Manning enters the twilight of his career, it would seemingly become even more imperative to build with the current timeframe in mind rather than the future.
But that isn't how Elway operates, as evidenced by the roster moves he made this offseason. Whether it was giving Brock Osweiler additional reps in the preseason to groom the Broncos' future at QB or signing seven rookies on a roster this talented, Elway has shown a keen eye for the future while remaining aggressive in the present.
Take the decision to keep defensive tackle Mitch Unrein over veteran starter Kevin Vickerson. Elway said Vickerson's release was perhaps the hardest of the weekend, and that Unrein's potential outweighed Vickerson's experience. One might infer that Elway even considers Vickerson the more productive defensive tackle right now.
"That is always tough especially when ‘Vick' is a guy that's played well for us," Elway said. "We had to make a decision on one of the two, and Mitch is a little bit younger and a guy we think that has a higher ceiling at this point in time of his career."
Elway's weekend was full ouf tough decisions, balancing those who could contribute today with those that can tomorrow. It's paid off.
"This is by far the deepest team since I've been here and the toughest decisions we've had since I've been here," Elway said.
Indeed, at face value, this Broncos roster is probably the most talented in franchise history.
But none of that matters if the Broncos don't hoist the Lombardi trophy at year's end.
"We were one game short of where we wanted to be last year. I think we feel good about where we are right now, but we also know that you don't win it on paper."