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.
Vasquez has played at RG throughout his four-year career, and he’s a strong run blocker. He’s a 335-pound player, and he should form a powerful right side with Orlando Franklin. I’m sure that John Fox wants to be better at picking up a tough yard or two when he needs it, and that it drove this decision.
I think this doesn’t bode well for Chris Kuper’s future with the Broncos. He’s highly paid, and I think his ankle problems the last two years are scarier than the Broncos probably want to pay for.
We don’t have details on Vasquez’s contract yet, but a four-year, $23.5 million deal has an Average Annual Value (AAV) of $5.9 million. When you net that against the 2013 savings you’d get by cutting Kuper ($2.7 million), the incremental cap cost for this year should be around $3 million. But Kuper was also set to make $4.5 million this year, so the cash difference relative to AAV likely isn't great.
As I said on Twitter a while ago, I’m not a huge fan of paying OGs big money, but I’d rather have Vasquez for $23.5 million than I would Andy Levitre for $39 million. My reaction is kind of mixed, overall, but I think the Broncos are probably better right now than they were this morning. Let’s hope that the opportunity cost of paying a RG top-of-the-market money doesn’t preclude a greater improvement that could have been.