Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The market for a particular position is getting out of control. There’s a player Denver could potentially re-sign, who would fill a big need at that position.
This player put a mediocre product on the field last year and John Elway doesn’t believe he deserves a top dollar contract, regardless of what the market says.
Said player is allowed to walk and signs a large deal elsewhere, leaving a gaping hole at a key position.
The free agent pool for this position group is below average at best; the talent on the roster is unknown at best and, more realistically, not good.
This leaves us a week away from the draft with no clear starter at a key offensive position. The problem is, any player we draft at this position isn’t likely to be ready to contribute at a first round level in year one, and even worse, we might have to trade up to have a shot at one of these players.
So are we talking about the quarterback search from last year, or the current left tackle search? Good question. The similarities between the two are undeniable.
This is the second year in a row where the Broncos have potentially pigeon holed themselves in the early rounds of the draft, but have no guarantee that their draftee at the key position will be the answer this year even if we do draft them.
But you can’t not draft a left tackle in the early rounds, right? Much like if Elway hadn’t drafted a QB last year, it would have put the team in a tough spot (remember, this was before Siemian was nothing more than a 3rd string, 7th round pick).
The logic that started both of these chains of events is sound: don’t overpay in free agency for mediocre talent just because you have no other clear options. Elway proved that this was a good strategy last year by not panicking and overpaying Brock Osweiler, and he did the same this year with Russell Okung.
The question then becomes, is it worth the payoff of being hamstrung in the draft?
One of the things to consider as well is a point that’s been brought up in the comments and our friends at Mile High Huddle have talked about recently, and that is the value of using first round picks on premium positions to manage costs.
If you are going to get below starter quality play at LT/QB in free agency and will have to pay loads of money for it, why not get below starter quality play cheaply from the draft, because at least there’s room for growth with that strategy as well.
This seems to be the direction Denver is taking over the last two years as Elway continues to play hard ball with free agents. You could argue that last year turned out about as well as it could have given the circumstances around the QB situation. We’ll see what happens this year at left tackle.
As always, let’s talk in the comments. Would love to hear your thoughts on the similarities/dissimilarities between these two situations.