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.
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.
In one of the bigger mistakes of John Elway's tenure running their football operations, Denver signed Mays to a three-year, $12M deal in March of 2012.
The contract included $4.5M in guarantees, including $500K of his 2013 salary.
Denver's nightmarish July continues, as Adam Schefter reports that all-universe linebacker Von Miller is facing a four-game drug suspension from the NFL.
Miller, who received the only vote for 2012 DPOY not marked for J.J. Watt, is said to be appealing the ban.
Obviously, there's no player more integral to the Broncos' prospects in 2013 and beyond than Peyton Manning, but Von may be a close second.
Updated 2:26pm ET
According to CBS4's Vic Lombardi, the Broncos have gotten serious in their negotiation with Ryan Clady toward a long-term deal. Lombardi reports that the team's latest offer includes $33M in guarantees, which would cover the first three years of a multiyear contract.
If that's $33M in full guarantees - meaning there are no outs for the team, like the one that resulted in Elvis Dumervil's release - then a deal must indeed be getting pretty close, as CBS4 suggests.
Reports from the DP's Mike Klis have varied wildly, pegging the guaranteed portion of Denver's final 2012 offer at $28M last July, and at just $16M more recently.
According to Mike Klis, the Broncos have increased their offer to left tackle Ryan Clady beyond the five-year, $50M figure they were said to have presented him last July, when talks between the two sides broke down.
Denver used its franchise tag on Clady, and the two sides have until 4pm ET on Monday, July 15, to reach agreement on a long-term deal. If they again reach a stalemate, Clady would play out the one-year, $9.828M tender, which he has not yet signed.
If that should happen, the three-time Pro Bowler would become an unrestricted free agent, unless the Broncos were to again tag him, but at a 20% premium (to $11.7936M).
Walton underwent surgery on Monday to replace hardware in his ailing ankle; an infection had apparently caused swelling in the area after the team's minicamp.
Koppen was originally signed by the Broncos to a one-year deal at the $825K minimum last September, just a few weeks before Walton suffered a fracture and disclocation of his left ankle.
According to Jeff Legwold, Broncos center J.D. Walton underwent another operation Monday on his ailing left ankle and may be lost for the season. A few minutes after his original tweet, Legwold adds that the team hopes to get Walton back by late October or early November.
Cecil Lammey of ESPN Denver suggests this could prompt the team to bring back Dan Koppen, who remains an unrestricted free agent.