How can the Denver Broncos improve this offseason? General manager John Elway would be well-advised to look at these five free agents.
On the shoulders of one of the best defenses in recent memory, the Broncos won the Super Bowl just two years ago. Since then, Denver fell to 9-7 in 2016 and won only five games this past season, losing 10 of their final dozen games. That 5-11 season has earned the Broncos the fifth overall pick in this upcoming draft. Vance Joseph kept his job after one unsuccessful year as Denver’s head coach, but Mike McCoy wasn’t as lucky as the Broncos offensive coordinator.
While Denver has plenty of draft capital including an extra selection in the fourth and fifth rounds, they are about middle-of-the-road in terms of their salary cap space. Currently, they have about $26 million to spend, but could make a few moves to create more room, including possibly cutting Aqib Talib. Fortunately for the Broncos, they don’t have much in the way of prominent impending free agents of their own.
That recently great defense isn’t what it was two years ago, but clearly this is the strongest aspect of Denver’s roster right now. No defense got less help from their team’s offense or special teams. The Broncos defense was constantly put in difficult situations in 2017. That being said, Denver never properly made up for the loss of Malik Jackson or Danny Trevathan.
While most of their needs are obviously on offense, the Broncos could really use an interior penetrating defensive lineman as well as an athletic every down linebacker. If Denver parts ways with Talib to make cap space, that also would create a hole at cornerback as well. It will also be interesting to see what sort of tender the Broncos place on Shaquil Barrett, a restricted free agent that could get some attention from other teams.
But as hinted at above, the real problems here lie on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterback is clearly the biggest issue for this team right now and most expect John Elway to be aggressive to attain Denver’s new franchise signal caller. The Broncos also could use more offensive line help, particularly at guard and right tackle. Denver’s pass catchers are also suspect outside of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Overall, turning the offense around will not be easy in one offseason, but the following players would help.
5. Sam Bradford
This would be somewhat of a consolation prize, but you could also do a heck of a lot worse than Bradford as your starting quarterback. That is, when Bradford is healthy. That is really the rub here with this former first overall pick. Can his body hold up? When he is on the field, Bradford, who is still just 30-years–old, is an exceptional thrower of the football and one of the most accurate passers in the game. Denver played three different quarterbacks in 2017.
Trevor Simian is an NFL backup and the Broncos can’t wait around any longer for Paxton Lynch to develop. Something has to be done here. Signing Bradford wouldn’t exclude the Broncos from using an early draft pick on the position to groom for the long term.
If Denver were to bring in Bradford, making his contract incentive laden would make a lot of sense. A healthy Bradford would be a huge upgrade over last year’s quarterback situation for Denver.