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As free agency looms, good time to remember why we say ‘In Elway We Trust’

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Free agency can be as much about good fortune as it is genius – but we’ve always known Elway has had a lot of both.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

It’s still a few weeks away from Free Agency (anyone else think this offseason has been long enough already???), and as the Denver Broncos are mulling over what to do with their 10 unrestricted free agents - including DeMarcus Ware (please keep him!) and Kayvon Web it’s a good time to remember a favorite mantra around here (well, two actually).

In Elway We Trust.

and/or

Thank You John Elway.

Because when it comes to keeping and acquiring free agents, Elway is second to none (OK, there have been a few blips – Donald Stephenson comes to mind – but those are mostly outliers).

Elway hit free agency out of the park in 2014 when he brought in T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib, DeMarcus Ware and Emmanuel Sanders. The following year's addition of Darian Stewart was also a sleuthy move by Elway. All five made an immediate impact, all five were a major reason for Super Bowl 50 being a thing and all five continued to have solid years this past season despite a sub-par team finish.

But what’s more impressive is which players have been on the Broncos roster that Elway has chosen not to re-sign. So let’s just remind ourselves how great TYJE’s decisions were and we can totally do some revisionist history on our own predictions if we didn’t happen to agree with them at the time.

And let’s start with my favorite non-re-signed Bronco …

Brock Osweiler

I was never a Brock hater nor was I clamoring for him to stay with the Broncos. I also didn’t hate Oz for "following the money" and going to the Texans for a Peyton-Manning-like salary (despite deserving a Peyton-Manning-backup salary instead).

But when it came out that he never even entertained the Broncos’ counter offer because he didn’t even answer the call, I was done with him. And the fact that Elway lucked out on this one rather than making the right call from the beginning is immaterial. The universe was looking out for Elway because even it knows "In Elway We Trust."

With his 15 touchdowns and 16 interceptions – plus an $18 million benching – Osweiler’s miserable football future has been set.

Julius Thomas

This might be one of the few Broncos I was actually happy to see leave. The tight end’s final season in Denver was flanked by lazy play, and his interest in money over team was far too transparent and selfish to be defensible.

His injury-riddled years in Jacksonville these past two seasons have proved his dad 100 percent wrong about his son’s toughness and numerous Pro Bowl appearances - and that is just too much schadenfreude for one person. So I’ll share it all with you.

Sure he may turn it around in Miami, but...nah, no way.

Malik Jackson

Not having Jackson was a blow to the Broncos’ defensive line this past season, but it was perhaps as much of a blow that the line lost Vance Walker to injury rather than losing Jackson to free agency.

Like so many players who leave, the grass is not only not greener on the other side of the fence, it’s usually dried out and dead.

Jackson had a decent year in Jacksonville, logging a career-high sacks total at 6.5. But what fun is a few good stats when your 3-13 team carries the bottom of the NFL?

And if Walker can come back strong in 2017, the loss of Jackson will get dimmer and dimmer on that defensive line.

Danny Trevathan

I was personally sad to see Trevathan walk because I had interviewed him the season before and really liked the guy. I also think he’s a bulldog out there and paired with Brandon Marshall, the two inside linebackers were a great team.

But Trevathan was definitely about the money and in all his interviews before the Super Bowl, I was always bothered by his answers that seemed to highlight his desire to play well so he could demand a great contract. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it made it easier to see him go to another team.

And when his knee gave out for a second time in his short NFL career while at the Bears last year, once again John Elway’s decision not to keep him was well-advised.

There are scores of other previous players the Broncos have let go whose lack of production has worked in the Broncos favor, but for them I’ll quote Scotty Payne because I couldn’t say it any better:

"Zane Beadles busted, Eric Decker never lived up to his hype, Orlando Franklin wasn't worth the money and Knowshon Moreno’s legs fell off."

Getting it right in free agency is as much good fortune as it is genius – but we’ve always known Elway has had a lot of both.

IN ELWAY WE TRUST.

Horse Tracks

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