A couple weeks ago I looked at the question of who could be gone if Elway had a fire sale. Demaryius Thomas has been the guy to garner all the headline attention and for good reason, but here’s a list of other names management could explore dealing. This isn’t necessarily a list of players I’d advocate for moving so much as a list of guys who aren’t likely contributing to the next Broncos team that is seriously contending for Super Bowls.
If winning (big) is all that matters in the NFL, it’s fair to wonder if they’re more valuable as trade chips.
Then there is Matt Paradis, Shane Ray, and Shaquil Barrett. If Elway isn’t sold on resigning any of them getting any potential value at this point would be a boon. It’s unlikely Denver suddenly deals all the above names, but the fans clamoring for a blowup need to realize those are the guys that could reasonably move if it did indeed happen.
A few trades from the above and the 2018 Broncos go from “good bad team” to dumpster fire pretty quickly. The schedule is a mixed bag going forward with the Chargers, Steelers, and Bengals games looming large. Even the Texans look scary, although the fact their team looks more like a M.A.S.H unit definitely helps Denver’s chances. It’s entirely possible for the Broncos to claw their way back to a respectable 8-8 if things go right, outside of those toss up tough games there remains dates with the 49ers, Browns and Raiders.
In many ways, tomorrow marks a crossroads for Elway as much as this year’s roster. If the 2018 offseason was a short term fix to chase respectability Tuesday’s trade deadline is a chance to finalize that decision. Picks are nothing more than potential but if I’ve learned anything about the NFL draft it doesn’t hurt to have as many lottery tickets as possible.
If Elway is looking to make a move up and grab a Quarterback like Justin Herbert in 2019, those extra picks would come in handy. With a 30-year old journeyman under center, the Broncos have to be considered the absolute lowest he’d fall in next year’s draft, if he declares.
Even with the Thursday Night beating in mind, It remains an open question if Josh Rosen would have been the smarter long term move at 5 last year. There’s a certain part of me that will admit it made sense for the chemistry of the team to grab a veteran and an immediate impact defender like Brandon Chubb. The rookie looks like a franchise building block, just as Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay do.
That may be what hurts the most about Keenum. If he looked anything like the signal caller he was for the Vikings, Denver would be competing with the Chiefs for the division. Instead they moved from the dregs of the league to outer fringe. It’s painful, but don’t let the trees cause you to miss the forest. Keenum has at least solidified the 2018 quarterback position enough that other talent on the offense has shown through. That wasn’t the case in 2017. What that does going forward is allow management to identify the parts of the roster that are worth building around for 2019 and 2020.
On to the links
Spoiler alert: it’s mostly the usual suspects. That’s how this entire season has played out. The goats have bleated week after week.
After eight weeks of football, the recipe for offensive success is as clear as cold Rocky Mountain water. Run the ball, use play action, and move Case Keenum outside of the pocket.
‘Self-inflicted wounds’ infuriate Broncos after dropping second tough loss to Chiefs - Mile High Report
“We’re close every week, but we’re not getting closer. We’ve just got to work on our fundamentals and get back to clean football,” Barrett said, asking reporters what the team W-L record was. “What’s our record, 3-5? We’ve been close a lot. But it don’t mean anything.”
I may need to dodge a rock or two for this, but I’d venture an opinion that Elway has already directly harmed his own legacy. As a GM he decided to roll with Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch two straight seasons instead of signing a starting caliber quarterback in free agency. Whether you agree or disagree with Colin Kaepernick’s stance against police brutality, Elway could have signed him. He didn’t.
“D.T.’s the best,” Keenum said. “He’s a pro. I absolutely love being around him. I love being his teammate. I’m honored to be his teammate. He’s got to be the best Broncos wide receiver in history, right? It’s a pleasure to be around him, and I’m glad I’m his teammate.”
Demaryius Thomas: The veteran wideout seems resigned to the idea he could be leaving the Mile High City this season, and the New England Patriots are among the teams who discussed the possibility of trading for him, according to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. With the Broncos’ playoff aspirations on life support and Thomas due a $14 million base salary in 2019, it seems wise for the Broncos to move him now and get an asset for the future in return.
This is a lot different than Joseph's answer yesterday when asked if the KC game was it for Thomas: “No, I do not believe so. I have not been told that. DT had a good week of work. He played hard today. He is all in with us. I have not heard that.”https://t.co/YKK2w0RLQR— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) October 29, 2018
The trade would make sense given Josh McDaniels originally drafted Thomas when he was head coach of the Broncos in 2009-10.
3. If there was a trade-deadline swing game yesterday, it had to Chiefs-Broncos. Had Denver pulled off the upset at Arrowhead, the Broncos would have been knotted up at 4-4 with Dolphins and Ravens, just outside the playoff picture. As it is, at 3-5, Denver figures to be a seller. Demaryius Thomas’ availability has garnered headlines—Courtland Sutton’s emergence has made Thomas a little more expendable too—but the veteran wideout isn’t the only one you should pay attention to. Teams have been asking about corners Chris Harris and Bradley Roby. And while depth issues at that position may make Denver reluctant to move those two, I’ve been told that linebackers Brandon Marshall and Shane Ray can be had at reasonable prices. We’ll see where it all goes, but if Denver plans to draft a quarterback in April, the time to start building capital for a potential move up the draft board is now.
Tom Gower: After running a draw play on third-and-goal from the 7, Vance Joseph does go for it on fourth-and-goal for the 4 to start the fourth quarter. After the touchdown cuts it to 30-20, he chooses to go for two. That’s not something you see every day, and a rare instance of an NFL coaching being more aggressive than I probably would have been in that situation.
NFL Week 8 Grades: Saints earn high mark for road win; Jameis Winston gets an ‘F’ for interception meltdown - CBSSports.com
Broncos: B- The Broncos made a lot of mistakes in this game, which is something you absolutely can’t do when you’re trying to win a shootout against Kansas City. Two of the biggest mistakes both came from Case Keenum and they both came in the fourth quarter. With the Broncos’ trailing 30-20 in the fourth, Keenum turned the ball over on two consecutive possessions (lost fumble, interception). The Broncos’ fourth quarter struggles overshadowed an impressive performance from a Denver rushing attack that totaled 189 yards.
Broncos trade LB Shane Ray to Rams Most GMs would likely shy away from tinkering with an 8-0 team, but Les Snead has shown he’s unafraid to address a need. The top area of concern could be edge rusher given the pedestrian production of starters Samson Ebukam and Matt Longacre (two combined sacks). Ray hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing, but he had a career-best eight sacks with Denver in 2016 under the guidance of current Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The plug-and-play potential, even if only as a rotational rusher, is certainly there for Los Angeles. Plausibility meter: 8. Ray is stuck behind both Von Miller and first-round pick Bradley Chubb as he plays out the final year of his contract. As a non-playoff contender, Denver should get whatever it can for him and Shaquil Barrett, its other backup pass rusher, who also might be of interest to L.A.
“No, not right now,” Riley said, via Dylan Buckingham of KFOR. “You sit here and answer these questions and I always want to be truthful. The truth is for me is I love Oklahoma. I love coaching here, I love college football. I certainly don’t have that itch right now. I don’t know that I ever will, but I’m never going to be a guy that’s gonna stand up here and say ‘No how, no way will any of these things ever happen.’ I don’t know that. I know right now I couldn’t care less about the NFL.”
A quick look at the Texans
Houston Texans Injury News: The Latest On Will Fuller, Johnathan Joseph, Zach Cunningham - Battle Red Blog
2 of the 3 definitely won’t play against the Broncos.
Will Fuller tore the ACL in his right knee on Thursday night, and will miss the rest of the season. The team’s second-leading receiver behind only 2017 All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins, Fuller was on course to set career highs in receptions, yards, catch rate, and yards per reception. He ranked 12th with a career-high 138 DYAR entering Week 8, and he will be very difficult to replace in Houston’s offense. Former 49ers draftee Bruce Ellington started in place of Fuller when the latter missed Week 1 with a hamstring injury, and Ellington is the most likely candidate to replace Fuller again from Week 9 onward. The bad news did not stop with Fuller.
Cornerback Johnathan Joseph suffered a combination of a knee sprain and a high ankle sprain that will probably keep him out for around a month. Over 50 percent of defensive backs who suffer a high ankle sprain miss at least two weeks, and the median recovery time is five weeks. The numbers are even less favorable for MCL sprains, with 50 percent of defensive backs missing at least four weeks and a median recovery time of six weeks. Given that Joseph was listed with both a knee injury and a high ankle sprain, and the MCL is often damaged by the same injury mechanism that causes high ankle sprains, it seems safe to conclude that the knee injury reported is an MCL sprain, and to therefore expect that Joseph will miss most of November.
Linebacker Zach Cunningham also suffered a knee sprain, but his injury is not expected to keep him out of any future games. Practice participation reports will tell us more about the injury’s severity, but the team does expect to have Cunningham available against the Broncos.
A look around the rest of the West
Everywhere I’ve looked this season the media has been praising Mahomes and every time I see a Broncos fan response to it is that they’re tired of it. May need to get used to it. He’s going to be around for a long, long time.
I unfortunately don’t think that Vance Joseph will be the head coach of the Denver Broncos the next time the Chiefs see them. Joseph is now 0-4 against Kansas City and 8-16 overall as Denver’s head coach.
Derek Carr answers his critics but Raiders’ defense requires he be ‘perfect’ - Silver And Black Pride
“It’s tough, but it makes us think as an offense think ‘hey, when we get the ball we have to score every time, we got to be perfect.’”
The Bay Area’s NFL teams will enter Week 9 a combined 2-13, good (or not good?) for a shared winning percentage of .133. No two NFL teams have entered a prime-time game on Nov. 1 or later with a worse combined winning percentage, according to Pro Football Reference.
There aren’t a lot of ways to pretty up Thursday’s game based on Sunday’s two games. The 49ers blew a 12-point lead with 12 minutes left against an Arizona Cardinals team with no discernible offense and lost 18-15, while the Raiders allowed 42 points to an Indianapolis Colts team that hadn’t managed that since 2014. Both games felt like forlorn exercises, especially in Oakland, where the access in and out of the Coliseum was scandalously easy, where tickets could be had for as low as $16 on the secondary sites, and where there were conservatively 8,000 empty seats.
Rivers has quietly led the Los Angeles Chargers to a 5-2 record and yet once again has become overlooked due to playing in the same division as young phenomenon, Patrick Mahomes. The veteran has posted a 117.8 passer rating which is good for second among NFL quarterbacks only to Drew Brees. He ranks third in touchdown passes to Andrew Luck and Patrick Mahomes although both of them have thrown more interceptions. Rivers ranks eighth in total passing yards at 2,008.
It says a lot about the Chargers and Rivers that they’re winning without their best player.
A look around the rest of the league
From a contractual standpoint this is expected to be a winning team. They have over $759 million in contracts on the team, 5th highest in the NFL. Their average player contract ranks 8th in the NFL. They have the 6th highest valued roster in the league with about $196 million per year in player contracts. They have the 4th most players in the NFL earning over $10 million a season. This is a team that is built to and expected to win now.
if Winston hits the market this offseason, where does he land? Miami? Oakland? Not many viable destinations....— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) October 29, 2018
San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan says that wide receiver Pierre Garcon has gotten interest from multiple teams concerning a trade. The 32-year-old Garcon has 21 catches for 230 yards and no touchdowns this season. • DeSean Jackson has requested a trade from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Ian Rapoport, NFL.com) Both may depress the trade value of DT on the market.
What you talking about Willis?— Golden Tate (@ShowtimeTate) October 29, 2018
So this week’s game between the Rams and the Saints is a very big one. It may shape what the rest of the year looks like in the NFC.
Only two players in NFL history have ever done it, Roger Craig with the 49ers in 1985 and Marshall Faulk with the Rams in 1999.
After Sunday’s game, Manning has now been sacked 31 times on the season, putting him on pace for 62 on the season.
”I think we just took the wrong approach this time,” Garrett said, via the Akron Beacon Journal. “I think we should’ve just stayed with what we did the first time, just go with base calls and punch them in the mouth.”
Williams has head coaching experience, going 17-31 in three seasons with the Bills. That’s quite a step up after Hue Jackson just went 3-36-1.
Let's check in with Gregg Williams. pic.twitter.com/HO16gLkREW— Kyle Crabbs (@GrindingTheTape) October 29, 2018
Peterson grew up in Palestine, Texas, as a Cowboys fan. He’s marveled at the other names he’s passed this season -- Marshall Faulk and Jim Brown. Dorsett is different. “It means a lot,” Peterson said. “He inspired me, being a guy who played for the Cowboys and accomplishing the things he accomplished in his career, and that’s what I set out to accomplish in my career. So, I appreciate it, and hope to continue to pass more guys on the list.”
“He’s in position where he can throw a football,” Gase said, via Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. “We’re gaining strength in that area. … It’s just a question of how much power he can put behind the ball.”
“We established within the first five minutes of that meeting that we weren’t there to negotiate an end to the protest. After about an hour and a half of talking, [Texans owner] Bob McNair says I think the elephant in the room is this protesting. [Bills owner] Terry Pegula follows up with, ‘Yeah, I’ve already lost two sponsors from my hockey team. We need to put a Band-Aid on this and we need a black figurehead to do it.’
Eric Reid’s breakdown of why the Players Coalition’s deal w/ the NFL is a sham reminds me of that time Left Eye broke down how TLC was a mega-selling group but still broke pic.twitter.com/b5LordHc8a— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) October 28, 2018
”If we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot, there’s not too many people that can stop us,” Wilson said after Sunday’s win, via the Seattle Times. “It really reminds me of 2012, when nobody was really thinking anything and you had young guys who played great and veterans who played great. There’s nothing that we can’t do.”
League sources said one of the concepts gaining growing traction among league office execs and NFL owners is the idea of a “London season ticket” that would work much like a normal season ticket would in the U.S., with eight regular-season games, only with a few quirks
In case you missed “Mock Draft Monday”
Everyone talks about the defensive line class and how great it looks, but what are the other strengths of this class? What are the weakest positions? Strong: Interior Defensive Line, EDGE, Wide Receiver, Interior Offensive Line Weak: Safety, Offensive Tackle, Running Back, Quarterback
So far, in 2018, we’ve seen NFL teams do their best impersonations of teams that were actually worth a damn, only to wake up to an early Halloween hangover and realize it’s time to get back to reality. Sounds about right.
PICK: Mack Wilson, LB, Alabama In an ideal world, I think the Broncos would love the chance to trade up for Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert. But, unless they plan on losing a lot more games, I’m not sure they’ll be able to pick high enough in the draft to do it. So, they’ll do the next best thing. There’s a chance Brandon Marshall could be let go next season, as his contract is a team-option for 2019, and Todd Davis isn’t a guy you’re trying to build your core around. Mack Wilson is. Wilson’s athletic ability, reliability and his instincts in the middle are cornerstone-like traits.
10. Denver Broncos: Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia Don’t get hung up on Baker’s size (5’11 and just under 190 pounds), he just makes plays and has seven career interceptions. Well, at least when offenses throw at him. Baker has great instincts to find the ball, and really excels in off man and zone situations.