According to Mike Florio, the Broncos are the frontrunners to sign Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall, who is scheduled to visit Denver and Arizona, and has reportedly also drawn interest from the LOLJets, Dolphins, and Falcons.
We're a bit skeptical, but that can partly be attributed to all of us being a bit meh on Mendenhall. FWIW, Rashard saw just 104 snaps in 2012 after a torn ACL cut him down in the Steelers' 2011 regular season finale. He's accumulated 941 carries, 4,210 yards, and 31 touchdowns in 57 games.
I'll just start by saying that I'm very happy that the Broncos re-signed Kevin Vickerson. He did a terrific job for them in 2012 and played a big part in them doing such a good job against the run for most of the season. Along with Justin Bannan and Derek Wolfe, the Broncos' front-three did a nice job occupying the opposing five offensive linemen in the run game, and allowing the other front-seven players to flow to the ball.
Fundamentally, all things being equal, I always think it's better to re-sign a player than it is to sign a free agent from another team. With an outsider, you face scheme risk, in the sense that you don't know if a guy translates to what you're going to ask him to do. The Broncos know that Big Vick can play in multiple alignments, two-gap on base downs, and one-gap some in passing downs. What they're doing schematically isn't really common, so knowing a guy can do the job is key.
The Elvis Dumervil story has taken yet another turn, and it doesn't lend itself to the DE remaining in Denver. As reported by Mike Klis:
Magid sent back a proposal Tuesday that lowered his client's asking price from $12 million in 2013, but then added that reduction onto his contract in the form of guarantees for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Ian Rapoport says on NFLN that the Broncos now stand a better chance of keeping Dumervil around. We hope that's the case, but will believe it if/when that occurs.
The Broncos are still scheduled to host 325-pound defensive tackle Terrance Knighton, but he won't be replacing Kevin Vickerson on the team.
According to Adam Schefter, Denver has agreed to terms on a new two-year deal with Vickerson, who had accepted a 46.7% pay cut (from $2.25M to $1.2M) to stay with the team in 2012.
In 17 games, Big Vick tallied a +3.6 grade on 537 snaps according to PFF, with two sacks, four QB hits, nine hurries, and a pass defensed. PFF credited him with 32 total tackles, 26 stops, and charged him with two missed tackles.
Justin Bannan, Denver's other starting defensive tackle, is also an unrestricted free agent.
According to Ian Rapoport, Elvis Dumervil has had a change of heart, and is now willing to accept a pay cut from the Broncos.
Source: Elvis Dumervil is now willing to take a pay cut. His side has exchanged a proposal with the Broncos, hasn't heard back since 4— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 12, 2013
Think the mild contract agreed to by Paul Kruger (five years, $40.5M) has something to do with this?
I’m never a really big proponent of signing free agents in the first hour of the proceedings, because you end up having to pay top of the market prices for them. I’m a much bigger fan of waiting a day or two, and letting the suckers get their money out there, and see who’s left.
That said, if you really want to upgrade at offensive guard, you could do worse than signing Louis Vasquez. I think he came into his own as a player in 2012, and was definitely the best offensive lineman on the Chargers. Of course, their line was pitiful, and their number-one priority has to be fixing it. By signing Vasquez, the Broncos just helped themselves, and hurt the second-place team in the division in about the worst way they could be hurt.
According to USA Today's Mike Garafolo, the Broncos have agreed to terms with guard Louis Vasquez, who spent his first four years with the Chargers.
Vasquez will reportedly get $23.5M over four years, with $13M of it fully guaranteed.
The move suggests a possible release of Chris Kuper, which we had discussed earlier in the day.
Updated 6:31pm ET
It's a formality, but for the Broncos, it's bigger than any move theyr'e about to make. Peyton Manning passed his physical, which (for now) guarantees his 2013 and 2014 salaries at $20M per year.
But like the recent Tom Brady and Joe Flacco deals, this is not a full guarantee. Should Manning suffer a reaggravation of his neck injury in 2013, his 2014 salary will no longer be guaranteed.
According to Adam Schefter, the Broncos will be hosting Eagles corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall (on Tuesday), who will also visit Arizona, DRC's old team.
USAT's Mike Garafolo says the team will also host Cardinals linebacker Stewart Bradley.
We'll be updating this thread throughout the day, so stay tuned.
Updated 12:12pm ET 3/13/13
By no means is this meant to be a definitive list, nor does it come with the scheme-aware analysis that Ted, Doc, and TJ can offer. But as we await the opening of free agency, here are a few names potentially worth keeping an eye out for:
Austin Collie - Only played one game last year, and has had notable concussion issues. Still, he thrived with Peyton Manning, so why not sign him to a non-guaranteed contract and have him compete with Brandon Stokley?
Terrance Knighton - He was drafted by, and played under, Jack Del Rio for his first three years in the league. He's currently listed at 330 lbs, and Del Rio made it well known last year that he prefers heavier tackles. Knighton's weight may be what keeps his price down, so isn't this a natural fit?