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Broncos free agent target: Connor McGovern

Could former Bronco and current UFA, Connor McGovern, be the answer at center?

New York Jets v Denver Broncos Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos used the 144th pick of the 2016 NFL Draft on guard/center, Connor McGovern, from Missouri. McGovern was allowed to have a “red-shirt” year in 2016 and didn’t start playing for the Broncos until late in the 2017 season. McGovern started five games that season (at guard) and then cemented himself as an integral part of the OL in 2018 starting 15 games at center or guard during the season. There is another Connor McGovern who plays guard in the NFL and is currently a free agent, but this post is focused on the former Bronco McGovern.

“Our” McGovern was allowed to leave in free agency and signed a three year deal with the Jets in 2020 for 27 million. He earned all 27.

Why the Broncos should not bring back McGovern

Right now the Broncos don’t have much cap space to use. Using cap space on a free agent center when we have two centers that we drafted still playing on their rookie contracts, Lloyd Cushenberry and Luke Wattenberg, seems like a luxury. Admittedly both were terrible last season. The Broncos also still have Graham Glasgow under contract for 2023 and he showed that he can be a serviceable center or maybe even a plus center. Glasgow finished in the top 10 among centers in ESPN’s run block win rate (he finished 6th at 72% while Dalton Risner finished 10th among guards at 74%).

So the Broncos have plenty of options at center for 2023 and that doesn’t even include potentially moving Quinn Meinerz over to center.

Depending on the data you use to evaluate offensive line guys, center could be viewed as a position that is not a high priority for the Broncos in free agency given the limited cap space.

Why the Broncos should sign McGovern

Too often over the past three seasons the Bronco center has been weak at the point of attack. LC3 has taken the majority of the snaps at center since the departure of McGovern. LC3 has 993 run block snaps in his career and has 39 blown run blocks (3.9%) and 13 opponent stuffs (1.3%) on those. While I remembered McGovern being much better at getting movement in the run game, he hasn’t been much better than LC3 while he has been with the Jets.

During the same three years McGovern has 1056 run block snaps with 30 blown run blocks (2.8%) and 18 opponent stuffs (1.7%). So he doesn’t blow blocks (whiffs) anywhere near as often, but he actually gets stuffed more often than LC3. Interestingly, McGovern was much better about NOT getting stuffed while a Bronco. He had 913 run black snaps as a Bronco and was only stuffed 7 times (0.8%). He actually had one season (2018) according to the, where he was not stuffed a single time in the run game (on 371 run block snaps). The 2018 version of McGovern would definitely be an upgrade over LC3 in the run game. That season McGovern also only had four blown blocks in the run game.

By PFF overall grade in 2022, McGovern is a step below Ethan Pocic and comparable to Garrett Bradbury. His 69.6 overall grade was about what McGovern has done each year since his first playing season (2017) when PFF graded him quite harshly (48.9). McGovern’s PFF grade by season: 48.9, 60.2, 72.0, 62.2, 75.9, and 69.6.

One of McGovern’s biggest selling points is his durability. Since the 2018 season (inclusive), McGovern has played 98% or more of the offensive snaps every year. That kind of durability should sound really good after a season when the Bronco OL was ravaged by injuries. The other two “good” UFA centers, Pocic and Bradbury, both have injury troubles in their past.

Player Pos. 2022 Team Type Snaps 2022 PFF overall Grade Age
Ethan Pocic C Browns UFA 69.9% 79.0 28
Garrett Bradbury C Vikings UFA 69.3% 70.2 28
Connor McGovern C Jets UFA 100.0% 69.6 30
Jake Brendel C 49ers UFA 98.2% 64.9 31
Evan Brown C Lions UFA 67.3% 64.8 27
Bradley Bozeman C Panthers UFA 66.8% 63.1 29
Tyler Larsen C Commanders UFA 45.0% 58.2 32
Austin Blythe C Seahawks UFA 95.5% 51.9 31
Billy Price C Cardinals UFA 62.6% 51.3 29
Matt Skura C Rams UFA 45.6% 48.3 30
Scott Quessenberry C Texans UFA 93.3% 36.6 28


With our limited cap space, should the Broncos bring Connor McGovern back to Denver?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    (65 votes)
  • 46%
    Yes, but only if he takes a deal that is less than the 9 million per he got from the Jets
    (319 votes)
  • 44%
    No, center is not a high priority position for the Broncos in free agency
    (302 votes)
686 votes total Vote Now