With the tension of the Manning issue burning up Broncos Country, and feelings of frustration rising over Denver having added no players yet, it’s easy to miss who’s still available. In addition, new players, many of whom are quality guys who believe that the market will pay more than they are currently being offered, come into free agency daily as they fail to reach accords with their teams. That’s exactly as we will see happen in Denver. We often get ‘stuck’ at the beginning of the FA period in our thinking about the big targets, but a lot of upgrades are out there. Let's check in on a few players who are still available, although they may go quickly:
TE - Kevin Boss
In addition to having helped Eli Manning win his first Super Bowl, Boss has both the size (6’7” 255 lb) and the blocking skills that Denver needs. He isn’t a bad receiver, either. He’s got nice, soft hands, runs good routes, and has a good understanding of leverage and angles. He’s a needed weapon in both the run and passing games and would be an upgrade over Daniel Fells, who was promising but ended up as a hit-and-miss player for Denver last year. He'll be visiting the Chiefs today.
I’d also expect Denver to surprise folks and keep Dante Rosario. He wasn’t that good as a TE, but he was tied for the team lead in ST tackles with 10.
DE - Andre Carter
The 6’4” 265 lb DE/LB could take snaps at RDE and provide an additional force on the line when Robert Ayers moves to his penetrating DT role. He’s athletic and talented: he can get you 8-10 sacks a year in that role and up your numbers on pressures, hits and hurries. Although he played RDE in the Patriots' hybrid system, he can play on either side of the DL and is best in a base 4-3 role. He’d push Ayers for the starting job and would probably take it away from him - in 753 snaps last season he didn’t have a single missed tackle and added 11 sacks, 16 QB hits and 24 QB pressures. He’s an instant upgrade to the DL and a huge boon to an already-tough Denver pass rush.
DE - Kendall Langford
Denver has said they want to fill their DE depth. If Carter is too pricey, and he will be unless they are serious about getting him, Kendall Langford was misused last year in Miami and wants to move on. At 6’5” and 295 lb he’s a powerful run stopper who will get you some pressure on the QB and can be used at DE or DT. I think that he’s better than his sack numbers, which is what most folks will look at, and just needs to be used in the right scheme - he didn’t fit into Miami’s 3-4 base formation. He’d be there to play behind Elvis Dumervil and/or Ayers, slide to DT, add some sacks, and be a dependable run stopper, all of which are things that suit him. It fills an area of need with a player who’s a solid upgrade over the unlikely-to-return Derrick Harvey. One missed tackle in his 554 snaps last season makes him even more interesting.
FS - Oshiomogho Atogwe
After a single year in Washington, Atogwe is back on the market and one of the best safeties currently available. The Broncos should be interested in him, as they were last year. Atogwe has been a productive, smart, and talented centerfielder both in St. Louis and Washington, and even at age 31 next season, the 5’11”, 205 lb safety contributed 60 tackles and three INTs last season. He’s going to draw a lot of interest - Washington let him go on Monday as a cap casualty only a year after signing him to a five-year deal. He’s solid in coverage, hits with power, is very good in run support, and has the intellect to QB the back end of the defense. I understand wanting to get younger, and there’s no question that he’s on the back nine of his career. But you look at top players like Champ Bailey playing well into their mid-thirties, and suddenly Atogwe looks like a very good option. He’s an upgrade on any safety that Denver had last year (sorry, Dawk) and would fill a position of need immediately. I hope the Broncos bring him in for a visit, at the least.
For those who asked, I do also like Mike Adams, who is visiting today. I think that Atogwe is a slightly higher caliber player, but either would be helpful.