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Should the Broncos sign a veteran left tackle in 2021?

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Some big fish are headed to sea. Maybe.

Baltimore Ravens v Cleveland Browns
Could Stanley cash in next year?
Photo by: 2019 Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Now that it’s official the Denver Broncos will not be extending a fifth year option to Garett Bolles, there’s a far greater chance Elway’s in the market for a left tackle in 2021. While it’s true that Denver passed on what looks like one of the more promising tackle classes I can remember in the 2020 NFL Draft, fortune could shine on them.

It’s worth noting that there’s just about a metric ton that could happen between now and March of 2021. Drew Lock could prove he’s not the quarterback to build around, for one. Bolles may play his way into an extension, for two. A couple of the unsung veterans in the offensive line room could feasibly emerge, such as Elijah Wilkinson or Calvin Anderson.

Let’s assume that none of those things come to pass and Lock does enough to hold onto the starting job after this upcoming season. If that’s the case, there’s not really any harm in looking ahead a little to what the chances are that the Broncos could capitalize on Lock’s rookie contract with immediate help protecting his blindside. After all, according to Over The Cap, the Broncos are currently projected to have just north of $60 million in cap space next spring.

One of the things that makes the veteran left tackle market tricky to project is that teams rarely let starting caliber bookends go. If a guy gets to free agency, there’s usually a red flag such as injury, age, or declining play. The rare exceptions tend to be new coaching staffs or tight cap situations.

Of the list above there are a couple potential candidates that bear monitoring. Alejandro Villanueva will be 32 in September and he plays for a Pittsburgh Steelers team that has no legitimate backup plan behind 38-year old Ben Roethlisberger as he returns from major elbow surgery. He’s said he feels fine, but optimism springs eternal this time of year. The Steelers are projected to have about $35 million in cap room with only 28 players under contract.

If Munchak’s former protege does not become an option, Bolles’ former draft classmate could. Cam Robinson was a second round pick in the 2017 draft, turns 25 in October, and plays for what looks like the worst team in the league. Doug Marrone survived a disappointing 6-10 finish to 2019, but only barely.

This offseason Dave Caldwell purged the roster in an effort to salvage a really tight cap situation and hung onto his coach. If I had to bet, the general manager already knows who his scapegoat is. A new coach could mean a different approach along the offensive line, and Robinson may not fit those plans.

The other tackle candidate that wouldn’t be a huge surprise free agent is Taylor Decker. A 2016 first round pick who is currently playing on his fifth year option, the 26-year old Decker makes a ton of sense to resign. Like Robinson and Jacksonville, though, he could wind up leaving a bad team if a bad start to the year leads to Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia’s ouster.

Dion Dawkins and David Bahktiari both seem less likely because their teams’ current management has mostly proven to be competent. Green Bay and Buffalo both look like they have stable cap situations with with-now rosters. Very rarely do teams in such positions willingly pull the plug on a capable starting tackle.

Lastly, I’d be really shocked if the Ravens let Ronnie Stanley go, but that’s my pie in the sky if Elway’s chasing big fish on the market next spring. What do you think Broncos’ Country?

Poll

Do you want the Broncos to chase a veteran left tackle in 2021?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Yes! They have the money.
    (1214 votes)
  • 37%
    No. Go draft one.
    (839 votes)
  • 8%
    No. Just resign Bolles!
    (183 votes)
2236 votes total Vote Now