As you can see, the Broncos earned a C+ grade from the people at Pro Football Focus. The common theme of PFF's reasoning was that the Broncos lost too much (just like every offseason) and didn't do enough to replace the guys who left.
To recap: the Broncos didn't overpay to keep Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan and Brock Osweiler. They also lost Evan Mathis, David Bruton, and offensive tackle Ryan Clady. Oh, and Peyton Manning retired.
Obviously, there are some big names on this list, but it seems like the media/writers/experts seem to forget that Broncos General Manager John Elway has let big names walk every offseason. He has found cheaper replacements for these guys who either replaced or outperformed their counterpart. But that fact was overlooked and the Broncos "are in trouble" again.
If you look at the players Elway signed/drafted, he found potential replacements for every player who left while strengthening his already stacked roster.
He replaced Manning and Osweiler with Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch. I know this statement sounds absurd, but Manning was awful in 2015 and Sanchez could potentially be an improvement over him. Lynchm like Osweiler, will be the unproven question mark. So the Broncos quarterback position really didn't improve or really get much worse.
Malik Jackson signed a mega-deal with Jaguars, but the Broncos defensive line remains strong. Derek Wolfe re-signed and played just as well, if not better, than Jackson last season. Vance Walker played well last year, and the Broncos drafted Adam Gotsis to help out at defensive end. So while the unit might not be as good in 2016, it's still a pretty strong and deep unit.
Danny Trevathan left this offseason to sign with the Chicago Bears. This left the Broncos with stud inside linebacker Brandon Marshall and a hole next to him. The Broncos really didn't address this position this offseason and will look at Todd Davis, Corey Nelson, and Zaire Anderson to replace Trevathan. The Broncos have proven to get good production from late round/no name (at the time) linebackers in the past, so I'm confident they will find someone else to make it work.
The team also made their running back, offensive line, safety and special teams depth better. So the team isn't in that bad of shape as these grades say. They lost some big names and talented players, but have a fresh crop of players ready and waiting to take over for these guys.
So let's get back to these offseason grades.
The Broncos receiving a "C+" offseason grade really worked out in their favor last year.
Pete Prisco of CBS Sports gave the Broncos a C+ offseason grade in 2015.
The Broncos have taken some big hits in free agency. They lost tight end Julius Thomas, guard Orlando Franklin, safety Rahim Moore and nose tackle Terrance Knighton. All four were starters the past two seasons. Thomas is the biggest hit, and they will try to replace him with Owen Daniels, who was signed, and Virgil Green, who was re-signed. Darian Stewart was signed to try and replace Moore and Shelly Smith was signed to replace Franklin. They also put the franchise tag on receiver Demaryius Thomas. This is a team in transition with a new coach, and free agency shows that.
A team in transition with a bad offseason winning the Super Bowl? Damn.
(Prisco also gave the Panthers a D grade, and they lost two games and made it to the Super Bowl...)
Chris Burke of Sports Illustrated also gave the Broncos a C+ grade to their 2015 offseason.
The defending AFC West champs made their most drastic changes at the top. If the effects trickle down the way Denver hopes, this is a Super Bowl contender. Still, it's hard to say this team looks better than it did a year ago(2014).
Everything trickled down like the Broncos expected and they were more than contenders, they won the damn thing.
My entire point of this article is to point out how stupid offseason grades are. Grading them in May before they even have their first OTA practice, Training Camp practice or, hell, first game action is pretty stupid, in my opinion. Almost as bad as grading a draft the day after it concludes. It's like taste-testing a steak before it's cooked. It will taste bad and you might get e-coli or something.
Your offseason "winners" are usually big disappointments during the season (I'm looking at you Oakland). Remember the Eagles "dream team," or just about every other "free agency winner" in year's past? All of these teams rarely lived up to their high expectations.
The teams who lost a bunch of starters and didn't spend a lot in free agency continue to win (Broncos, Ravens, Steelers, Patriots, Packers) while your offseason "winners" watch the offseason "losers" be postseason winners.
So a "bad offseason" by these "experts" means we're in for a successful 2016 season, Broncos Country!