As we enter another exciting moment of the offseason with free agency beginning, let’s take a look at where the team stands in needs and kick around some ideas on what the Denver Broncos will be looking for.
In case you missed it or want a refresher, here are the links to the roster review series replete with my grades, thoughts on roster strength and all the nitty gritty details on contract situations and stats:
John Elway the General Manager
Let’s start off by a quick primer on John Elway. As far as GMs go, he’s shrewd, smart, and very focused with how he handles free agency.
There’s a part of him that’s very much not going to be wild or crazy. He doesn’t just drop cash on crazy ideas or risky players. He’s shown himself to be more than willing to spend on somewhat costly free agents (Demarcus Ware, Peyton Manning, Aqib Talib, Case Keenum, and Russel Okung as examples).
The key component here is look for Elway to sign costly players that are going to be impactful and consistent for the team.
The other point to make is that he’s very smart on how he structures contracts. Even his worst signing of his tenure as GM (Case Keenum) doesn’t in retrospect look that bad...he’s gotten value back, dumped the contract to another team, and gained a draft pick after already sending signals that the team was moving on from him.
Look for Elway to make more moves later in the free agency period. He won’t be the guy that leads the pack in throwing money around everywhere. He’s very much a value shopper for the most part. The team will sign pieces early that make good sense (Kareem Jackson yesterday), but will likely be looking at signing more players after all the GM crazies have thrown money around to help spend their cap numbers and remove the free agents from the pool who are likely the most expensive and least interested in team friendly contracts.
Back to the roster...
Let’s recap my grades for the roster and I’ll dig a little deeper into what we’ll need in free agency. Keep in mind the score scale was a simple 1-5. Check out the last roster review article for a breakdown of what the scores are based on.
Defensive Ends 3
Nose Tackles 1
Outside Linebackers 3
Inside Linebackers 2
Interior O-Line 3
Tight Ends 2
Wide Receivers 4
RB / QB:
Running Backs 5
High priority free agency positions
Even though I had a lower score on the NT position, the cornerback position would have topped my list of needs because of how important it is and how little depth the Broncos have at the position. Thankfully, Elway has already addressed this in a big way by bringing another excellent, versatile cornerback to the team. With Jackson and Chris Harris, Jr., this team can be very creative with coverages in the defensive backfield. I love the signing, but I don’t think the team is done. If there’s another talented slot corner available, the team might still sign one a little later in free agency.
Inside Linebacker #2
The Broncos have needed a serious injection of talent at ILB for years, and with them finally cutting ties with the under-performing Brandon Marshall, I think this is one of the most likely positions for the team to target a free agent as not only are we down a starter, but the type of ILB that Fangio likes to use isn’t type we have a lot of on the team today (lateral movement and quickness is lacking currently). C.J. Mosley is the dream signing here, but I’m not sure the Broncos would be willing to pay enough to get him here.
Tight End #3
The Broncos on the offensive side absolutely lack a play making tight end. That being said, we don’t have a solid quarterback so investing a lot of money here may be a poor idea in the big picture. I still wouldn’t be sad to see the Broncos bring in a guy like Austin Seferian-Jenkins. There’s not a lot of guys out there other than him I’m interested in for the Broncos. They are either injury worries with low long-term viability or average talent tight ends which we’ve already had plenty of in the past few seasons.
Nose Tackle #4
Johnathan Hankins was a guy I was really excited about, but alas I have another reason to hate the Raiders. That being said, the team is going to need to find a replacement for Peko or bring him back. I do think we could address this in the draft, but I think Vic Fangio is going to be much more comfortable with a NT who is proven and will take little coaching to be able to execute a game plan.
The above is my No Bull list of what I would target. That being said, there’s some other positions that are likely to get traction for the Broncos. Namely WR, RT, and S. I like the youth situations there which is one of the biggest reasons they didn’t make my list.
That being said, we’ve needed a real answer at RT for years (though last year we rented a vet who did a superb job). Wide Receiver is a thick market where you can always find talent to add to your team that won’t break the bank. Also, Coach Fangio may not want to wait to develop the younger safeties on this team which could lead to us signing another vet.
Look lively, Broncos Country
Keep in mind that what the team decides to do in free agency is going to tell us a lot about what they see in the draft and how they plan on attacking their roster as the 2019 season gets closer.
It also is going to say a lot about what the coaches think of the players we already have that we know and love. It may not be fair, but it is the way of the NFL that a new coaching staff means churn in the roster as they want their guys. We’ve already made a pretty significant change at QB and have jettisoned some of our veteran players with heavy contracts. We’ve also retained some of the more quality veterans. But the moves in free agency really say a lot about the younger up-and-coming players on the team.
Hit me up in the comments and share your thoughts and questions. What did you think about the Jackson signing? Who’s the guy you are chomping at the bit to see the Broncos bring in?