Many of these free agent targets may not land with a team until after the draft because teams will look to see if they can find a cheaper solution to their problems before throwing money at a veteran.
With the addition of Case Keenum, I would be shocked if the Denver Broncos add another QB in free agency. If they were to add an arm for some reason, the best remaining passers are Jay Cutler, Matt Cassel, Derek Anderson and Mark Sanchez.
It appears C.J Anderson is safe, for now. While there’s a few intriguing veteran backs on the market, there’s no logical need to add another one. If CJ is moved during the draft and the team looks to add a cheaper veteran, I’m big on Alfred Morris to fill the “thumper” role. He adds little in the passing game, but neither does Anderson.
DeMarco Murray is another veteran that fans may call for, but his production and efficiency don’t really match up with his production last year. Combine that with his age and the team is better looking elsewhere. Same for Adrian Peterson.
While Jordan “Sunshine” Taylor coming back is good news for his fans, the Broncos still find themselves with a dire need for more receiving help. Here is the first position that would really benefit from a veteran infusion of talent. 3 of the 6 pass catchers with 20 or more receptions on the 2017 season were running backs, which says a lot about the lack of protection and viable receiving options.
The Eric Decker reunion is something a vocal minority of fans are pulling for, the Broncos interest seems unlikely. It’s understandable as the 30 year old veteran has had his share of injury issues and is beginning to show real signs of decline on the field.
Elway could do worse than add Jordan Mathews to the fold. He’s 6’3 and has some productive seasons to his name but is coming off a very disappointing 2017 where he was traded to the Bills and failed to produce. That likely dampens his market, but he’s both young and athletic enough to provide some belief that he could turn it around in the right scheme fit. What’s more, he has experience in the slot and outside.
If it’s purely for slot receiving depth, Kendall Wright could be a name worth pulling for. He was a bit overburdened in an offense with no receiving talent and a rookie QB a year ago, but the 28 year old veteran still managed to catch 72% of his targets. He’s a bit smaller than the other names on this list and lacks the flexibility someone like Mathews or Pryor could provide, but Elway could do a lot worse.
Quick hit Wide Receivers:
- Mike Wallace- old straight line deep threat.
- Brice Butler – Good measurables but has never put it together on the field.
- Jeremy Maclin – Hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2014, last year was the worst of his career.
- Markus Wheaton – Former Bear who was once a decent tertiary guy for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I love Butt as much as the next guy but believe it’d be wise to add a veteran.
With Martellus Bennett retiring, this market is a little dry. There’s a need to discuss Julius Thomas. As per usual, there are fans clamoring for the former Bronco to return but snowman have a better chance in Florida than Thomas does landing back in Denver. He has caught 12 touchdowns over the 3 seasons, a total that matches his final year with Peyton Manning.
There have also been rumors that Elway is interested in Brent Celek, formerly of the Eagles. A move would be underwhelming at the very least, as the 12-year veteran has become a shell of his former self. He would provide nothing more than old depth beyond Butt and Jeff Heuerman.
Quick hit Tight Ends:
- Antonio Gates: if he returns, it seems likely he’ll be a Charger but Virgil Green signing with Los Angeles makes things cloudy.
- Ben Watson: 37 but could be worth a look as he continues to defy Father time.
With the Jared Veldeer trade, it’s unlikely that Elway adds anything significant to the tackle rotation. It’s probably for the best, as the Fleming-to-Cowboys rumors plucks the only veteran tackle left on the market I’d bang a drum for. I was dubious about Cameron Fleming to begin free agency because of a potential asking price, but it’s slim pickings beyond him.
While Elway and the front office may disagree, there remains a gaping hole at guard. After Ron Leary the talent just falls off a cliff. It’s likely that a rookie is added to the mix, but one guard that may be worth a look on the market is Austin Howard. Bronco fans may remember him most from his stint with the Raiders, but he most recently played for the Ravens and could upgrade the right tackle spot if he’s healthy.
Joe Berger is another player I’m personally fond of, so reader beware. A graduate of the Michigan Tech Husky’s (basically my hometown) he has experience playing center and guard and could step in to become a potential upgrade over Max Garcia while providing depth behind Paradis. He’s a bit older but a short-term deal could really help shore up the offensive line.
Quick hits Offensive Line:
- OT Greg Robinson: former 2nd overall pick bust. Young enough to turn it around. Probably won’t.
Last time I looked at the FA market, I noted that Pernell McPhee could be an interesting pass rush piece if the price is right. He still could be. He would fit into the Broncos as a backup player to the outside backers but would provide a chess piece and mismatch weapon for passing down situations. I doubt Denver signs him, but he continues to intrigue me. His raw numbers are a bit deflated because he played for some bad Bears teams and was their best edge defender in 2017.
Generally, I’m really dubious about adding former Broncos but Elvis Dumervil is one where I’d make the exception. Out of players with 200 or more qualifying pass rushing snaps last year, the King finished 36th out of every edge player in the NFL per Pro Football Focus in 2017. He’s a one trick pony as he’s weak against the run but would add a real punch to a pass rush that fell off a season ago.
Johnathan Hankins could be a huge addition to the Broncos the right price. He’s a standout run defender. Elway seems unlikely to add him, but if he did it could spell the eventual end for Wolfe.
Quick Hit Front 7 Players:
- Ndamukong Suh: No reports suggest he has considered Denver
- Nick Fairley: career may be over because of a heart condition.
- Kony Ealy: may be worth a flier, but little more.
- Ahmad Brooks: Better run defender than pass rusher last year but may be a decent veteran minimum guy.
- James Harrison: Unlikely to consider the Broncos as he seems to be looking for a ring.
With Todd Davis resigned, it makes little sense for the Broncos to add veteran talent of note here.
While the Broncos added Brock, there remains a huge question about how the team intends to improve upon it’s woeful pass defense against tertiary receivers, tight ends and running backs from a season ago. Even blind optimists can’t see Brock as an improvement over Aqib Talib, but even if John Elway hadn’t given away his Pro Bowl corner to Wade Phillips, additional help was needed: only Oakland allowed more passing yards per game to tight ends in 2017.
If there’s any hope for the Broncos to continue their reign as a top 10 defense, they’ll desperately need a comeback year from Brandon Marshall. If that happens, Von and the pass rush see a resurgence and the run defense stays as stout as they did last season? There will still be a need for another blue-chip contributor to appear.
The good news is that even after a week there are a couple of really strong defensive backs on the market. If Denver’s serious about contending in 2018 they would be wise to sift through it with a wide tooth comb and find another player or two.
First on the list has to be Eric Reid. A former first round pick for the 49ers, he has the kind of versatile toolkit that should be worth big money. It likely would be if he was not such an active participant in the protest against systemic oppression that Colin Kaepernick began in 2016. It appears that the same “blackout” that faced Kaepernick is impacting Reid’s free agency, but if Elway is serious about improving the No Fly Zone he’ll strongly consider the playmaker.
After Reid, there’s Tyvon Branch. He was exceptional in coverage last season. He does have big durability questions dating back to the 2012 season (!) but could be a rotation piece that really helps the defense in a big nickel package.
Quick hit, defensive backs:
- Sean Smith: 2017 was a 5 year low, but 6’3 210+ lb Dbs don’t grow on trees.
- Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: another 5-year low guy. Did you know Denver almost signed him over Talib in 2014?
- Adam Jones: At 21 or even 31 Pacman seemed worth the headache. At 34? Not so much.
- Terrance Newman: old is putting it softly, but he was awesome for the Vikings last year.
- Mike Mitchell: does everything okay, but isn’t great at anything. Last year was his worse since 2014.
My Dream Additions
- Eric Reid: Safety
- Tyvon Branch: Safety
- Joe Berger: Guard/Center
- Jordan Matthews: Wide Receiver
- Elvis Dumervil: Edge