Once Denver made the biggest splash of free agency in adding Wes Welker, it was practically a foregone conclusion that Brandon Stokley would not be re-signed.
The only question was whether the 14-year veteran would retire, wait for a possible injury among Denver's wideouts, or sign somewhere else entirely.
Stokley, of course, served a crucial role in the Broncos' recruitment of Peyton Manning - hosting, and then playing catch with (secretly in a neighborhood park) - his old Indy mate. And once Stokely realized that he, too, might have something left in the tank, he said he'd play in 2012 for the Broncos, or nobody else.
According to Mike Klis, the Broncos have agreed to terms with Ryan Lilja on a one-year contract to join the team, presumably to compete for the starting center position. The Broncos have lost starter J.D. Walton for a significant part of the season, and recently lost presumed replacement Dan Koppen to a torn ACL. Manny Ramirez has been taking the starter's reps lately.
Lilja, who is a bit undersized at 6-2 and 290 pounds, played for the Colts from 2004 through 2009 primarily as a guard, and then joined the Chiefs for the 2010 through 2012 seasons. He had retired earlier in this offseason, so his signing is a reversal of that. Lilja rated as a 14.6 on PFF's scale last season, while playing center for the Chiefs. That's better than any Bronco has done at the position since Casey Wiegmann posted a 33.1 rating in 2008.
Update - 8:00 PM EDT - According to Klis, the maximum value of the contract is $2.2 million.
Broncos CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been carted off the practice field today with an injured leg. The Jeff Legwold tweet that PFT based their blurb upon speculated that the injury was to DRC's knee or ankle.
Obviously, no injury is good news for a football team, but if the Broncos could afford to lose a player at a position for an extended period, it's probably at cornerback. Presumably, this bumps Chris Harris and Tony Carter up a notch, and it presents an opportunity for recent mid-round picks Omar Bolden and Kayvon Webster.
Update: 3:48 PM EDT - It appears that DRC's injury is "merely" a high ankle sprain, which is moderately serious, and tends to be a 2-4 week injury. I would guess we won't see him in the preseason much, if at all, and that the target has to be trying to get him ready for Week 1.
Apparently, the Broncos are no more excited by the possibility of having Manny Ramirez start at center than the rest of us. That is to say, they're not super into the idea.
According to Alex Marvez of Fox Sports, the team has extended an offer to recently retired 31-year-old Chiefs center Ryan Lilja (6-2, 290).
Lilja was a guard for most of his eight-year career, but excelled at center for Kansas City in 2012.
Following the season-ending knee injury to center Dan Koppen, the Broncos have agreed to terms with lineman Steve Vallos (6-3, 310), pending a physical.
The 29-year-old Wake Forest alum has played in 42 games (nine starts) over six seasons in the NFL with Seattle, Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Philadelphia.
The Broncos are apparently about to find out whether Manny Ramirez or Philip Blake can cut it as an NFL center.
Incumbent center J.D. Walton is out until at least late October following surgery in June to clean out an infection in his surgically repaired left ankle.
When that infection was discovered, Denver re-signed Dan Koppen, who had filled in for Walton quite admirably in 2012.
Denver waived undrafted rookie tight end Lucas Reed on Friday and added former Kansas City tight end Jake O'Connell (6-3, 250) on Saturday to replace him.
In four seasons with the Chiefs, O'Connell started eight of the 35 games in which he appeared, totaling 15 catches for 108 yards and no touchdowns. Kansas City drafted him in the seventh round of the 2009 Draft.
The Broncos have inked 2013 first-rounder Sylvester Williams, who had been their only unsigned player. Denver selected the North Carolina defensive tackle 28th overall, and he figures to play a significant role within the team's line rotation.
According to Mike Klis, the contract is worth $7.6M over four seasons, including $3.9M up front and $6.1M in guarantees.
Speaking at Dove Valley on Wednesday, Von Miller mostly avoided questions about his four-game drug-related suspension. But when asked about whether smoking marijuana is a part of his life, he emphatically responded, "Absolutely not."
Said the All-Pro linebacker, "I don't think I let my teammates down. Everybody has tough moments in their lives. I have great teammates, teammates have been great for me."
But in a possible nod to prior issues, the third-year star added, "The guy who I was yesterday is not the guy I am today; the guy who I was two or three or four years ago is not who I am today."
Wharton spent his first eight seasons in Carolina, which of course means he's well-acquainted with John Fox and line coach Dave Magazu. He visited with the Panthers on Tuesday, but left without a deal.
Originally drafted by Carolina in 2004, the former Gamecock has started all 99 regular season games in which he's played, all of them with the Panthers.