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Grading Broncos’ free agency moves so far

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From quarterback to cornerback, John Elway filled some key holes—but were they with the right players?

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NFL: NFC Championship-Minnesota Vikings at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

The first official hours of free agency have come and gone, and the Broncos have made some big moves—most of which were known days before the actual league year started.

So it seems a good time to weigh in on just how good those moves were, starting of course with the most important player on the team.

Well OK, the second-most important player after Von Miller. (kidding, kidding... I do understand football.)

And since it’s midterms, let’s hand out a few grades.

Broncos sign Case Keenum on two-year deal.

GRADE: B-, potential for a B+ with a good second “draft” on this assignment

So after much fanfare and wasted hope, the Broncos did not in fact waste a bazillion dollars on former Redskins QB Kirk Cousins and instead threw a couple dozen million at Minnesota’s miracle-maker, Case Keenum.

Analysts graded this move anywhere from a solid B to an F.

SBNation’s Ryan Van Bibber noted that this move is “a massive upgrade for the Broncos quarterback situation” and still gives the Broncos some flexibility to draft a top QB this spring and develop him for 2018 or beyond.

On the other end of the spectrum, FTW’s Steven Ruiz pointed out that John Elway warned us at the Senior Bowl he wasn’t done “swinging and missing” on quarterbacks. And Ruiz clearly thinks this move, costing the Broncos $36 million over two years with $25 million guaranteed, was a miss:

“That’s not cap-breaking money, but it is a significant number for a player with one good season under his belt. And that one season was played with one of the best support systems in the league. Keenum’s offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, was so good, he landed a head coaching job in New York. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are now in the “Best Receiver Duo in the League” discussion after turning Keenum’s consistently inaccurate throws into circus catches.”

I have to admit that I haven’t been too “keen” on this “Case” - though the move doesn’t upset me.

If you’ve been paying attention, this “bridge QB move” with a second-tier talent was last on my preferred list of options for the Broncos at quarterback (and I may or may not have to pay up on a possible bet related to this move).

I’m wary of Keenum’s talent paired with the Broncos’ supporting cast (good wide receivers but questionable running backs and tight ends) compared to the Vikings, but it is no doubt an upgrade over the past two seasons, and I definitely like that. I also like Keenum’s energy and believe his experience, leadership and pocket awareness will be invaluable to this team.

If the Broncos go for the big hit in the draft at No. 5 and take a certain quarterback, then I’ll probably like this move even more. I will also admit that I’m also not unhappy we aren’t strapped with a fully-guaranteed $86 million bill like, ahem, the Vikings.

Broncos trade Aqib Talib to Rams; sign Tramaine Brock as No. 3 cornerback

GRADE: C+ (D+ for losing Talib; B+ for saving money)

Whatever.

Sure, $4 million/year is better than $11 million/year when you need cap space for Kir...oh, wait.

So as long as you’re fine with a good defense and not an elite one, this move to get rid of Talib for a fifth-round draft pick (whaaaat?) is fine.

But I don’t like it, and I don’t really care that most disagree with me. It won’t change my mind. Go ahead and bring your “Talib was 32 and the drop-off was going to happen soon” talk all you want. I won’t buy it.

Arguably, the true “No Fly Zone” was gone after Broncos cut T.J. Ward before the 2017 season. But without Aqib “I will rip your chain and shoot my a$$” Talib out on the field, the “No Fly” is officially dead, dead, dead. And that makes me sad, sad, sad.

Chris Harris Jr. is money, and Bradley Roby seems like he can shine in a starter role. But losing Talib will impact our defense in a negative way, and I will never like the move. Unless, of course, 30-year-old Tramaine Brock suddenly becomes amazing, or Broncos sign Devin Breaux and his legs stop breaking.

Broncos re-sign linebacker Todd Davis

GRADE: B

This wasn’t a sexy move, but it was the right one.

Davis struggled against the pass but was solid against the run, and the Broncos need to keep some consistency at linebacker and shore up some depth. Hopefully they can add some young guns to the inside linebacker position in the draft.

Trevor Siemian dealt to Vikings for 5th-round pick in 2019

GRADE A

I will be happy to see Siemian go, but not because I don’t like him - because I do.

This environment - both the finicky and impatient fan base along with an inconsistent coaching staff/QB room - is not the best place for him to reach his full potential as a (likely back-up) quarterback.

Going to Minnesota where he’ll be reunited with fellow understudy Kyle Sloter and where he can put his football IQ skills to work studying and learning with a solid staff will be a great situation for him. Not to mention a fresh start with fewer unrealistic expectations.

And getting a fifth-round pick next season for Siemian was a solid trade.

Horse Tracks - docllv’s pick of the day

Joe Thomas couldn’t keep playing long enough to see the Browns turn things around - The Washington Post
The left tackle announces his retirement after 11 seasons and 10 Pro Bowl selections.

Horse Tracks - Free Agency grades

2018 NFL Free Agency Tracker | NFL Analysis | Pro Football Focus
See the contract status of every 2018 NFL free agent, as well as where they sign.

NFL Free Agency 2018 Grades: Case Keenum to the Broncos | SI.com
Many thought the Broncos might enter the sweepstakes to land QB Kirk Cousins, but signing Case Keenum gives EVP John Elway room to fill even more of Denver's needs.

2018 NFL free agency grades: Cardinals keep making bad decisions - SBNation.com
It’s a massive upgrade for the Broncos quarterback situation, and it still gives them the flexibility to try again with drafting and developing one this year.

Denver Broncos: Case Keenum FA signing grade
The Denver Broncos are expected to sign free agent QB Case Keenum when the new league year opens. We grade the signing...

NFL Free Agent Grades: Brees deal an A+ for Saints and more big moves Tuesday - CBSSports.com
Was the Kirk Cousins or Case Keenum deal better? Pete Prisco says it's close, but has the answer

Denver Broncos' 2018 free agency: Tramaine Brock adds versatility - Denver Broncos Blog- ESPN
After trading Aqib Talib, the Broncos moved to shore up their depth at cornerback by adding a veteran who can play outside or in the slot.

Horse Tracks

If you blinked, you missed the NFL’s rapid free agent QB reshuffling - The Washington Post
The Broncos got Case Keenum. The Vikings got Kirk Cousins. The Cardinals got Sam Bradford. The Jets got Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. The Saints kept Drew Brees. And the NFL's free agent market wasn't even officially open yet.

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Broncos and Jets trade up for QBs, Browns take Chubb No. 1 - CBSSports.com
In the aftermath of the huge trade to land Tyrod Taylor, the Browns choose to pass on a QB at No. 1

Detroit Lions release TE Eric Ebron after four seasons - NFL.com
Eric Ebron is out in Detroit. The Lions announced Wednesday that they have released the tight end. Ebron, who is entering his fifth season, was slated to make $8.25 million in 2018.

Kirk Cousins' departure from Washington to Minnesota: an unavoidable divorce - The Washington Post
What Cousins provided most to Washington were three years of stability, but it wasn’t enough to prevent both team and player from what in the end was an inevitable divorce.

Teddy Bridgewater's deal with Jets worth up to $15M - NFL.com
They've met, they've hashed out details and they're all but a collection of signatures from being united. Teddy Bridgewater is joining the New York Jets.

Saints signing backup quarterback Tom Savage - NFL.com
Tom Savage is bringing his act to New Orleans. The free-agent quarterback agreed to terms with the Saints, per a tweet from his agent.

Bills agree to terms with AJ McCarron on 2-year deal - NFL.com
AJ McCarron finally found a home. The Buffalo Bills announced Wednesday night that they have agreed to terms with McCarron on a two-year deal.

Malcolm Butler: I never got a reason for SB LII benching - NFL.com
After signing with the Tennessee Titans in free agency, Malcolm Butler revealed he never found out why he was benched in Super Bowl LII. But he's not letting it linger as he moves onto Nashville.

Miami Dolphins cut Ndamukong Suh, Julius Thomas - NFL.com
Three-time All Pro Ndamukong Suh is on the market. And who figured Julius Thomas would be cut? Oh, every Broncos fan.

Poll

How would you grade the Broncos overall on Free Agency moves so far?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    A
    (61 votes)
  • 43%
    B
    (530 votes)
  • 36%
    C
    (435 votes)
  • 8%
    D
    (100 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (54 votes)
  • 2%
    Can we retake the class?
    (27 votes)
1207 votes total Vote Now