As free agency lurks, we’re already seeing some big names linked to the Broncos. There will be more, but here are a few somewhat lesser names that have stood out for me:
The player who I like best so far in free agency is 26-year-old offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, formerly of the Panthers and Vikings. I’ll be talking more about him in a two-part series on the middle of the Denver roster, but he has a history with John Fox in Carolina and has played both right guard and right tackle successfully.
He’s likely to be more of a cap-friendly acquisition and potentially fills a need that’s literally bigger than safety, wideout, or situational pass rusher. He’s a mauler who uses his 6-6, 334-lb body to his best advantage. I’d love to see him after another year or two under line coach Dave Magazu. He may not an be elite talent, but he’s very good. I see him as a potential upgrade over Manny Ramirez or Chris Kuper who would allow Denver to leave Orlando Franklin at right tackle.
As Doug pointed out, plenty of big players are going to be linked to the Broncos. With the team coming off a 13-3 record, and their limited time frame with Peyton Manning at QB, Denver is again a highly desirable place to come play.
Woodson will turn 37 in October, but he’s been one of the top players at safety in the league. Is he worth a look?
Collie is 27 and has been released after a year of only 12 catches due to a series of concussions. He’s been a good target for Manning in the past, and Brandon Stokley is probably looking at his final season, so he’s interesting on that basis.
Last but not least, Freeney might be reduced to being a situational pass rusher, but he bagged five sacks last year in only 768 snaps (including playoffs). Is he worth bringing on board for that role?
Happy Saturday, friends. As per Doug's request from last night, I have some thoughts on the potential matches between the Broncos and new free agents Charles Woodson, Dwight Freeney, and Austin Collie.
All are established veterans, but have enough tarnish at this point that they won't command much contractually - think one-year deals, with little or no guaranteed money.
Collie's issue is concussions, but I'd take a look at him as a fourth WR for the minimum. I'm sure he has better chemistry with Peyton Manning and knowledge of the route concepts than Matt Willis (who's also an unrestricted free agent) does.
I think there's more potential value to the Broncos with Collie than there is to any other team, and the risk to the team is nil.
Now that the Broncos are SB favorites and overdogs for the first time in fifteen years, they're going to be mentioned as a possible landing spot for seemingly any and every significant player who becomes available.
That drumbeat will only grow louder regarding players with ties to Peyton Manning, or to any of Denver's coaches.
After Manning chose the Broncos last March, the rumor mill immediately revved up with talk of Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, Reggie Wayne, and Joseph Addai potentially following the QB to Denver. Of course, none of them did, and only Jacob Tamme and Brandon Stokley joined Peyton in representing an ex-Colts contingent in Denver.
Today brings more such speculation, as two former All-Decade defensive stars hit the market, along with one of Manning's receiving targets from his Indy days.
It's widely expected that the Broncos will use their franchise tag on All-Pro left tackle Ryan Clady this offseason. But what exactly does that mean?
Let's go over the details, including the most basic:
What is a franchise tag?
A franchise tag is a restricted tender used by teams to retain their most important unrestricted free agents. Franchise tags can also be used on players who are already deemed restricted free agents, but this doesn't generally happen, as it's not cost-effective.
Happy Sunday, friends. Once again, the mailbag has yielded a good question. This is one of those parts of the offseason where nothing is really going on, and where we’re really likely to have time to address good questions, so keep ‘em coming.
Today, from our friend Haiku Boy:
I have an ongoing argument with this contrarian frenemy of mine who keeps insisting they should cut Robert Ayers. I know the cap savings would be minimal (roughly one million) but he points to his lackluster statistics, low defensive snap count, and frankly the fact he was picked by McDaniels.
Is there any way this will happen, and would there be any way to justify the move? This guy is seriously bugging the crap out of me.
No problem, HB. The price for the answer is one haiku in the comment section. Whenever a fan talks about getting rid of a player, for whatever reason, the first question that must be asked and answered is, “Can you get somebody better (or at least at a better value) to fill the guy’s role, and where’s he coming from?”
However, Klis and PFT appear to be incorrect in writing that Champ is scheduled to make $10.5M in his 15th NFL season and 10th with Denver. His base salary was originally worth $9M, but the latest of 12 Pro Bowl selections for the 34-year old triggered a $500K escalator.
Great question today from reader Helge:
Do you guys believe the Broncos should restructure Manning's contract by converting his base salary to bonuses, and push that money into future years (by adding some dummy years at the end of his current contract)?
One downside would be a big dead money hit when Manning retires, but at that point, the next QB would presumably be relatively cheap.
Helge, it's certainly an option, but one that John Elway & Co. have likely been trying to avoid. Since Elway took over, they've done a great job of not dispersing large piles of Pat Bowlen's cash at any one time, and not mortgaging future cap space for anyone - not even the greatest free agent in history.
So many franchises during the cap era have been undone by pushing cap hits off into the future. Eventually, you have to pay the cap piper, and that's when things can get ugly.
Many more veterans figure to be looking for work soon, and Jason La Canfora of CBS thinks a Denver shocker is among the possibilities:
Champ Bailey, Broncos ($9 million plus $1 million roster bonus): Bailey had a brutal time of it in the postseason, the Broncos have emerging young corners and owner Pat Bowlen has had them operating on a tight budget.
It's hard to imagine the Broncos without Bailey, who along with D.J. Williams is the team's longest tenured member, and prior to Peyton Manning's arrival, was the longtime face of the franchise.