Now that the Denver Broncos have solved their quarterback problems by trading for none other than Russell Wilson (I’ll keep mentioning this trade all offseason probably, sorry not sorry!), we can finally look at the entire roster to look at actually improving in areas that could make or break a Super Bowl run.
Looking over the Broncos free agents, the most important place I think Denver should focus attention on in free agency is at the edge rusher position. I’m all for bringing Von Miller back, but many reports out there are suggesting his price tag will be too high for the Broncos. I dislike that mentality, because if an A-tier player’s price tag is too high then that means they’re looking at a subpar B-tier pass rusher. If that’s the case, then you might as well roll with what you got and draft a middle round guy.
George Paton sang Bradley Chubb’s praises a few weeks ago.
Going into the offseason, this is the first time Bradley [Chubb] is going to be healthy in, I believe, three years,” Paton said on March 1st. “When he’s healthy, we all know he can play at a Pro Bowl level. I’m really excited. I think I said this before [but] I really respect Bradley [Chubb] fighting through the injuries and finishing strong. We play Kansas City, it doesn’t mean anything, really for anyone except our team, and you saw how Bradley [Chubb] played that game. I’m really encouraged. I think he’s going to get back to that Pro Bowl level.”
Sadly, I just don’t see it. I had been waiting for Chubb to overtake an aging Von for Chubb’s entire career now and he just hasn’t come close. I think he is a fine starter, but not an elite pass rusher like Von. Von has reached double-digit sack numbers in seven of his ten seasons, including 9.5 sacks last year. Maybe Chubb can finally catch on. We’ll just have to wait and see. Until then, I think Denver needs to bigger than just a low-end starter type at edge. There are just too many elite quarterbacks in the AFC West to mess around there.
Right tackle and inside linebacker is also another area of need, but I feel like they could address both in the 2022 NFL Draft using their five draft picks between the second and fourth rounds. If there is a low end starter at the right price in free agency, then that would be good for the just in case scenario of striking out in the draft on the position.
I also asked our other staff writers to chime in on this topic. As you can see, a growing theme emerged from all of our perspectives. The Broncos need a right tackle, an edge rusher, and help inside either on the defensive line or linebacker.
Edge, RT, IDL - Scotty Payne
You need to rush the passer and the Broncos sans Miller didn’t do that and you have Mahomes and Herbert in a division you want to win.
You just traded a haul for Russell Wilson, it’s time to get someone to man the right tackle position.
Shelby Harris is now in Seattle which opens up a spot on the defensive line and replacing him on the field and in the locker room will be key
RT, Edge, IDL/ILB - Joe Rowles
At this exact moment the Broncos have one tackle under contract who has played a snap in the NFL. I expect Calvin Anderson to receive an RFA tender to stick around, but he finished last year on Injured Reserve. It’d make sense to bring back Bobby Massie or chase a free agent tackle because there is an immediate need for a starter there.
Edge is the most obvious need on defense, which is why a reunion with Von Miller makes too much sense to ignore. Bradley Chubb’s landed on Injured Reserve three of his four seasons in the NFL with lower body injuries and ‘21 was his worst season to date. Meanwhile Malik Reed’s production fell off a cliff without Chubb or Miller drawing attention and he’s also a RFA. Beyond those two Denver’s counting on Jonathon Cooper, Andre Mintze, and Aaron Patrick.
After those two needs the Broncos should look to shore up their defensive front. It’s a bit of a hedge, but I’d say defensive line and linebacker are pretty comparable needs on this side of a Josey Jewell re-signing. Between the two groups Denver currently has two “core” players in Dre’Mont Jones and Baron Browning.
Edge, RT, ILB - Joe Mahoney
Bobby Massie played on a prove it deal in 2021 and played fairly well given his cap number was 2.3 million. With a better QB to block for and a legitimate shot at a ring during the last few years of his career, Denver becomes a team that Massie might take another vet minimum deal to come back to. The rest of the free agent tackle market is pretty bare, and while I appreciate Calvin Anderson, I have little confidence in him as our starting RT. Trent Brown, Riley Reif, Morgan Moses, David Quessenberry and Cameron Fleming are all options, but most (if not all) are going to cost more than the 2.3 million cap number Massie had in 2021.
RT, IDL, EDGE, ILB, CB - Taylor Kothe
I’m going with my top 5 needs since the top 3 are arguably so obvious that there’s not much left to add there. RT is a no-brainer. IDL is next in my eyes, because we specifically need new high-end veteran leadership for that position group. Rookie talent that will take 2 to 3 years to really get going is not the solution we need at IDL to compete in 2022. Give me a vet!
EDGE falls behind IDL for the flip side of the same coin. If Bradley Chubb really is fully healthy for 2022 where he wasn’t in 2021, then we need a high-potential rookie as much or more than another veteran FA at EDGE.
ILB, most likely via re-signing one of our several FAs at the position, is another area where FA reliability > rookie cheapness/long term potential. We’ve got that already with Browning, so a veteran partner for him would be ideal.
And CB rounds out the top 5, being another position where a free agency solution would be great, but a rookie draft pick might be better. Either way, the Broncos need one more starting caliber CB, for depth if nothing else.
Where do you think the Broncos need to focus on improving in free agency? Let us know down in the comments section below.