Before free agency began, there were warning signs that the Denver Broncos were going to be brutalized when the free agency period officially kicked off. And brutalized they were. John Elway didn't flinch. He didn't panic. However, it is clear that the Super Bowl champions took some major blows to their talent level this week.
Let's recap the bloodbath.
Malik Jackson signs with the Jacksonville Jaguars
There wasn't much John Elway and the Broncos could do about this one. The Jaguars came at Malik Jackson with nearly $90 million, well above what the Broncos could spend at their current salary cap levels.
This loss will hurt the Broncos the most as Jackson was the second best pass rusher on the team according to Pro Football Focus. His pressure in the face of quarterbacks was the difference in many games, but especially against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.
What the Broncos do to replace him is anyone's guess. It is unlikely they will find that kind of production from anyone, but they still have three to four quality edge rushers. The sky is not falling there, unless they are forced to release DeMarcus Ware over this contract restructure.
Brock Osweiler signs with the Houston Texans
Like a lover spurned, Brock Osweiler apparently had his sights set on leaving the Broncos well before free agency began when he cut off all contact with his former teammates and coaches in Denver. He talks a good talk, but his actions speak much louder than his words.
Long term, I think the Broncos dodged a bullet here and the Texans will be looking for another quarterback in a few years. Still, losing Peyton Manning to retirement and Osweiler to free agency puts the Broncos in an immediate bind at the position heading into the 2016 season.
If the Colin Kaepernick trade falls apart with really no quality free agent options, Elway will need to be aggressive in the 2016 NFL Draft to pick up a quarterback that is ready to compete from day one. The Broncos will need to rely heavily on their defense again next season, but even they are poised to take a step back after their dominant 2015 campaign.
Danny Trevathan signs with the Chicago Bears
Many view the inside linebacker position as one that is easily replaceable in Wade Phillips' system, but what you cannot easily replace is chemistry. Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall had that chemistry, but with Trevathan signing a big deal with the Chicago Bears that has come to an end.
Out of all of the free agent losses so far, this could be the one that the Broncos most easily find an answer for in 2016. Still, losing a starter on the NFL's best defensive unit hurts any way you slice it.
C.J. Anderson signs with the Miami Dolphins
The Broncos have not quite lost C.J. Anderson yet, but time is running out for them to match the Dolphins front-loaded big contract. Judging things by Elway's own philosophy, a matching is not going to happen. That means Anderson is likely to be officially a Dolphin next week.
Losing Anderson will sting, but it depends on which Anderson they are losing. The one that doesn't get into game shape until early November or the one that runs roughshod over teams in late November and through December?
That inconsistency is probably why Elway will let Anderson have his big payday with the Dolphins and not with the Broncos.
Will this bloodbath continue?
No. Regardless of who departs from here on out, the sting will be considerably less than those who have already gone. They have added some depth along the offensive line with Donald Stephenson and traded for quarterback Mark Sanchez to address the hole at backup that Osweiler has left. Even if Sanchez is the starter, he was a better quarterback in 2015 than Peyton, so there is that to consider.
In years' past, Elway has hit his home runs during this next phase of free agency. The second and third wave of signings is where Elway builds his championship rosters, so hold onto your butts (fumble) because this thing is just getting started.
Now is definitely not the time to panic. So R-E-L-A-X.