Earlier this week I asked the gang at Mile High Report if they thought the Broncos should make a move before the NFL Trade Deadline. Most agreed that they didn’t want to watch Elway make a move while they stood in line to vote.
Since then it’s been in the back of my mind as I went back over the Broncos game against the Chiefs. Even while I looked ahead to Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers, it’s up there gnawing away.
In the end, I can’t help but feel the Broncos need to sell whatever they can if they drop to 2-5. As it currently stands the Broncos have a 5.2% chance at the postseason according to Football Outsiders Playoff Odds report. Across 30,000 the simulations, they never won a playoff game. Which means standing pat and hitting their absolute ceiling gets them a quick ouster from the dance.
Since the Broncos aren’t really chasing a Super Bowl this season, they need to prioritize the long terms goals: evaluate Drew Lock and make sure they have a starting caliber quarterback in place for 2021. It is possible to accomplish both goals simultaneously.
In 20.7% of the Football Outsiders’ 30,000 simulations they landed a top 5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. In 300 simulations they bottomed out with the worst record in football. Beating the New York Jets means it will be hard to “tank” harder than them for Trevor Lawrence as they look hapless. Hard, but not impossible.
As it currently stands only one unit on the Broncos is playing like a playoff team. Trading off parts of the defense won’t directly interfere with evaluating Drew Lock, even if it drastically increases the Broncos odds at losing games. It just so happens the defense also has a number of veteran pieces who could be valued contributors around the NFL as well as murky futures in Denver.
Even before the 2020 season began I had my doubts that Elway could keep this defense together longer than one season.
If you look across the Broncos defense, there are ___ players who have expiring contracts or look like prime candidates for cap cutting measures in 2021. All numbers are courtesy of OvertheCap.
- Justin Simmons - Expiring contract.
- Shelby Harris - Expiring contract.
- Alexander Johnson - Expiring contract.
- Kareem Jackson - $10 million saved vs. $2.82 million in dead money.
- A.J. Bouye - $13.375 million saved vs. $0 in dead money.
- Bryce Callahan - $7.38 million saved vs. $1.33 million in dead money.
Alexander Johnson and Bryce Callahan are probably the least likely to move and for good reason. Johnson is a Restricted Free Agent after the year and so the Broncos shouldn’t have much issue holding onto him next season. With the way Callahan’s contract is structured he carries significant dead money if cut or traded right now.
As for Kareem Jackson and A.J. Bouye, it’d make a ton of sense to deal both. Jackson’s going to be 33-years old in 2021 and showing signs of a decline in his play. Bouye’s 29, healthy, and carries no dead money on his contract after he was acquired from the Jacksonville Jaguars.
I want to be clear that I don’t want the Broncos to trade all the players listed above. As recently as Monday I said if Elway loses either Garett Bolles or Justin Simmons to free agency in 2021 he should be fired. My point is that if Elway and the Broncos do not believe Simmons is in their long term plans the smart move is to recoup whatever value they can before he leaves after the year. It’s a similar thought with Shelby Harris, who has looked like one of the best tackles in football this season.
It’s not as if Elway’s prone to standing pat when his team clearly isn’t contending: Denver traded Demaryius Thomas right before a week 9 showdown with the Houston Texans in 2018, and dumped Emmanuel Sanders to the highest bidder last season.
It isn’t necessarily a popular with the players, but one of Elway’s best traits as a GM has been the way he can take emotion out of the equation when he evaluates players. Trading D.T. and Sanders is proof of that. With the way this season is headed, it’d make sense for him to consider it once again.
If Drew Lock fails with the rest of his 2020 audition, they need to keep swinging at QB. Extra draft picks help in that endeavor.
Should the Broncos make a move or two before the NFL Trade Deadline?
This poll is closed
Yes - Buy!!!
Yes - Sell!!!
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