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What should the Denver Broncos do with the roster this offseason?

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The Roster Debate and how to “Win from now on”.

NFL: New York Jets at Denver Broncos
What should Elway do with the roster moving forward?
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What should the Denver Broncos do this offseason? We take a look at a few potential Broncos rosters with and without Kirk Cousins.

No Bridge QB

Position Starter Backup
Position Starter Backup
LWR Demaryius Thomas Marqise Lee*
RWR Emmanuel Sanders Jordan Taylor
LT Garett Bolles Andreas Knappe
LG Jack Mewhort* Max Garcia
C Matt Paradis Connor McGovern
RG Ronald Leary JJ Dielman
RT Chris Hubbard* Elijah Wilkinson
TE Jeff Heuerman Jake Butt
QB Rookie QB* Lynch/Siemian/Kelly
RB CJ Anderson Devontae Booker
FB Andy Janovich
LDE Derek Wolfe Zach Kerr
NT Domata Peko Kyle Peko
RDE Adam Gotsis Shelby Harris
SLB Shane Ray Shaquil Barrett
ILB Brandon Marshall Jerrol Garcia-Williams
ILB Zaire Anderson Rookie
WLB Von Miller DeMarcus Walker
LCB Aqib Talib Bradley Roby
SS Justin Simmons Jamal Carter
FS Ricardo Allen* Darian Stewart
RCB Chris Harris Brendan Langley
NCAA Football: Senior Bowl
Should the Broncos add a rookie QB like Josh Allen?
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Joe Rowles: Would definitely think this is unlikely, given the reported interest Elway has in Case Keenum. This one assumes the Broncos do pick up Wolfe’s bonus and he does not become a free agent while also keeping Talib and Sanders. There is some dispute on the Wolfe numbers, with Spotrac.com and OverTheCap.com citing different dead cap penalties vs savings, which is why his role going forward is debatable.

This roster provides the new franchise guy veteran talent around him. The additions were 70+ grade PFF guys (outside of Mewhort, who was before injuries) and potential roster fits. Allen provides Joseph with the flexibility to go Cover 3 or 1 with a strong deep defender, Lee is an outside/inside tertiary receiver who should help in 11 personnel groupings. The line should also be solidified by pushing the flotsam Denver has started at right tackle to the sideline or off the team.

I looked through similar players on Spotrac/OTC and the free agent additions should fit under the cap, depending on the offensive line market. Some moves that may be required if there was a cap crunch are Menelik Watson, CJ Anderson or Aqib Talib, who is already reportedly being shopped. Going this route adds 4 starter level contributors with the money it would take to add a Kirk Cousins.

The one part that would likely be adjusted is QB, with a Keenum or another veteran playing stopgap to the rookie. I’m in the minority but believe that guy is already on the roster (and cheap), but most of Broncos Country would revolt if Siemian was still wearing orange and blue next season.

Jeff Essary: I like the idea of a rookie quarterback without a bridge guy. Bring back Osweiler to be the backup and keep Lynch merely due to contract reasons, or Kelly depending on how he looks in camp.

I disagree that we need to spend big money on a safety, or any money for that matter. Justin Simmons is a great movable chess piece at safety, Stewart looked better once he went back to FS instead of SS/matchup, and Will Parks does a nice job as a dime safety/backup. I just think it’s way overkill, especially if Talib is retained.

I like signing some help on the offensive line. My preference would be Sitton at guard to pair with a draft pick that will be groomed to replace him.

Marquis Lee is a good grab for a 3rd WR and Sanders replacement, if he comes at a good price.

Overall, I like the idea of building around and committing to a draft pick at #5. This free agent class in general is pretty mediocre this year, so I would rather see us save the cap space and extend some of our own guys early or wait until next year to spend big.

Joe: I disagree pretty strongly on Parks. In 593 snaps last year (About 150 less than Simmons) he earned a PFF grade of 47.5. He was decent against the run but abysmal in coverage, not exactly what you want from a Dime safety. Maybe he improves, but after a weak rookie season and last year it’s simply nothing more than hope right now.

I agree with you on Sitton, I think he would also be a strong addition. He may cost more as his resume is much stronger than Mewhort’s.

Bridge QB

Position Starter Backup
Position Starter Backup
LWR Demaryius Thomas Cody Latimar
RWR Emmanuel Sanders Jordan Taylor
LT Garett Bolles Andreas Knappe
LG Max Garcia Rookie
C Matt Paradis Connor McGovern
RG Ronald Leary JJ Dielman
RT Chris Hubbard* Elijah Wilkinson
TE Cameron Brate Jake Butt
QB Case Keenum* Rookie QB
RB CJ Anderson Devontae Booker
FB Andy Janovich
LDE Shelby Harris Zach Kerr
NT Domata Peko Kyle Peko
RDE Adam Gotsis Rookie
SLB Shane Ray Shaquil Barrett
ILB Brandon Marshall Jerrol Garcia-Williams
ILB Zaire Anderson Rookie
WLB Von Miller DeMarcus Walker
LCB Aqib Talib Bradley Roby
SS Justin Simmons Jamal Carter
FS Eric Reid* Darian Stewart
RCB Chris Harris Brendan Langley

Joe: This is a similar idea, but uses some of the cap dollars saved by walking away from Wolfe and Talib (who was kept on the first roster) to add players like Keenum, Reid and Brate. Keenum is the obvious starter until the new QB is ready (perhaps even playing an entire season if he’s as good as he was for the Vikings last season) while Reid comes after a cool market given his ties with Colin Kaepernick and the protest during the National Anthem. Brate is a different addition, who may not fit if Joseph and the coaching staff loves Jake Butt as much as most Broncos fans do. He is however, a versatile tight end that could become a slot weapon as well as provide some insurance against Butt and Heuerman’s health questions.

In terms of cap fit: Talib ($11 M), Wolfe (debated, ranging from $4.3 to $8.5) Anderson ($4.5) and Sanders ($5.5) are all potential cap casualties if the Broncos choose to add a bridge guy like Keenum. With the year he just had and a potentially robust market if he leaves Minnesota, he’ll definitely cost more than Mike Glennon did last year. Other names that may get some attention if Elway chose to go this way are A.J McCarron or Tyrod Taylor, both could be cheaper than Keenum but neither seem as likely.

Jeff: I do not like the concept in general of a bridge QB, and think Keenum will be much too expensive to make this worth it.

If you go this route, you still lose key veterans for cap space, but don’t recoup the talent in a proven quarterback.

If they go the draft route, commit to it and stop playing around with QB “competitions” and gap QBs who just prolong the mediocrity. We’ve had enough of that.

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
Would a veteran QB like Case Keenum be a better choice?
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The Madden Approach

Position Starter Backup
Position Starter Backup
LWR Demaryius Thomas Cody Latimar
RWR Emmanuel Sanders Jordan Taylor
LT Garett Bolles Andreas Knappe
LG Andrew Norwell* Rookie
C Matt Paradis Connor McGovern
RG Ronald Leary JJ Dielman
RT Menelik Watson Elijah Wilkinson
TE Cameron Brate Jake Butt
QB Rookie QB* Siemian/Lynch/Kelly
RB CJ Anderson Devontae Booker
FB Andy Janovich
LDE Shelby Harris Zach Kerr
NT Domata Peko Kyle Peko
RDE Adam Gotsis Rookie
SLB Shane Ray Shaquil Barrett
ILB Brandon Marshall Jerrol Garcia-Williams
ILB Zaire Anderson Rookie
WLB Von Miller DeMarcus Walker
LCB Bradley Roby Rookie
SS Justin Simmons Jamal Carter
FS LaMarcus Joyner Darian Stewart
RCB Chris Harris Brendan Langley

Joe: If life was a video game, this is how I’d approach the Broncos upcoming free agency. Joyner and Norwell provide Joseph two new top tier players at positions of need and could immediately fortify the line and secondary.

Neither will be cheap, with the current top guards earning between $10-12 million a year and safety’s earning as much as $13 M a season. To make the moves work on paper, Talib and Wolfe are jettisoned. If Elway still wanted to play in the market a move like cutting Anderson or Sanders may also become necessary.

Jeff: Similar to the thoughts above, I like this route and love the Norwell signing. If we’re going to draft a QB, surround him with some bulls on the offensive line.

I like Joyner, but still don’t see the need for a FS, plus it looks like the Rams could franchise tag him. If anything I would cut Talib and sign a younger corner for starter money. Or get a guy like Tyran Mathieu who can play slot/safety and use him and Simmons as chess pieces all over the secondary.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-North Practice
Would splash free agents like Joyner & Norwell be the best way to support a rookie QB?
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Cousins + Trade back with Buffalo

Position Starter Backup
Position Starter Backup
LWR Demaryius Thomas Cody Latimer/Henderson
RWR Emmanuel Sanders Jordan Taylor/McKenzie
LT Garett Bolles Andreas Knappe
LG Ronald Leary Max Garcia
C Matt Paradis Connor McGovern
RG Will Hernandez (R) JJ Dielman
RT Orlando Brown (R) Elijah Wilkinson
TE Jeff Heuerman Jake Butt
QB Kirk Cousins Lynch/Kelly
RB Devontae Booker Henderson/Rookie
FB Andy Janovich
LDE Derek Wolfe Zach Kerr/Walker
NT Domata Peko Kyle Peko
RDE Adam Gotsis Shelby Harris
SLB Shane Ray Shaquil Barrett
ILB Brandon Marshall Jerrol Garcia-Williams
ILB Zaire Anderson Rookie
WLB Von Miller Okoronkwo (R)
LCB Bradley Roby ROOKIE
SS Justin Simmons Jamal Carter
FS Darian Stewart Will Parks
RCB Chris Harris Brendan Langley

Jeff: I went ahead and added some draft picks that I would like to see Denver go with. This roster assumes that Denver trades out of their pick at #5 with Buffalo for their two first rounders.

Notice, the only veteran Denver loses, that they wouldn’t lose already, is Talib (who will be gone next year anyway). Watson, Anderson, Siemian, Garcia, and Talib being cut give us plenty of space to maneuver a contract for Cousins.

The scariest part is obviously having an unproven guy at the 3rd cornerback slot, but Langley was drafted in the 3rd round for this reason. Denver has been preparing for life after Talib for awhile, so if Roby, Langley, and another rookie can’t step it up, we should probably just get out of the player development business.

Joe: If Denver does chase Cousins (and all reports suggest they will) then trading back from Buffalo for more picks and an additional starter from the draft makes a lot of sense. I do wonder if Brown will be there. Also, the idea of an entirely rookie right side with Bolles on the left leaves me wondering how much improvement will actually occur, but with this weak FA crop this may be the best case scenario for moving forward.

You and I disagree on the secondary, I can’t help but think this roster would take a big step back against the pass. Langley was raw coming out of Lamar University. He has tools, but showed little last season to indicate he’s ready for a big jump in playing time. It may be required with Cousins taking most of the cap, but definitely a concern.

Jeff: You make a good point on Parks. I've liked what I have seen from him on tape, for a 6th rounder. But I agree he was far and away our weakest link in the secondary.

However, if Denver wants to upgrade there, I would prefer they do it with a S/LB hybrid or matchup safety who can play the box and man cover. That's not Stewart, and I don't think bringing in another true safety is the answer.

I think it's high time we went after an undersized coverage LB, or hybrid safety guy. This would negate Parks needing to be on the field as much, and would keep Simmons at SS, and Stewart at FS where both are at their best.

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