Woodson, Freeney, Collie hit open market; let the Broncos speculation begin

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.

The first and biggest move of the day was Green Bay's release of 2009 DPOY Charles Woodson, who was scheduled to make $9M in his age 37 season (he'll turn that age in October). A broken collarbone caused the safety to miss nine games in 2012; the former Heisman winner and seven-time All-Pro finished with a -1.5 grade in 629 snaps according to PFF.

Denver, of course, will be rumored to be considering an upgrade at safety, whether temporary or permanent, until Rahim Moore lives down his playoff gaffe, or is replaced by someone like Woodson or Ravens legend and 2004 DPOY Ed Reed.

Given the strides Moore took in 2012 (notwithstanding that fateful Baltimore game), it's kind of hard to envision the Broncos pushing the youngster down the depth chart. But those are the moves that overdogs make.

For his part, Woodson is said to be interested only in joining a SB contender, so a return to Oakland is a far-fetched idea, and a stint in Denver more likely.

The other former All-Decade defender to hit the market is Peyton's old teammate Dwight Freeney, whom the Colts said on Friday they don't plan to re-sign. The 2005 AFC DPOY is clearly on the downside of his career, but perhaps being a situational pass rusher is the ideal role for him at this juncture. Freeney registered five sacks but just 12 total tackles in 768 snaps last season, and registered a -1.4 grade from PFF.

It's cliche to compare a potential match to a similar historical move, but adding Freeney would definitely bear a strong resemblance to Neil Smith's 1997 defection from Kansas City, although we'd suggest Smith probably had more in the tank at that point than Freeney does today.

Indy also announced they won't be retaining wideout Austin Collie, who thrived with Manning and Indy but has been hampered by a slew of concussions, much like Denver free agent Brandon Stokley before him.

The fifth-year receiver saw just 12 snaps in one game last season, but was a favorite target of Peyton's in 2009 and 2010, when they connected for 118 catches, 1,325 yards, and 15 touchdowns in 25 games.

I'll leave it to Ted, TJ, and Doc to explain whether any of these players would be schematic fits for Denver.

But get used to the Broncos being discussed as a potential landing spot for every medium or big name free agent - it's certainly better than the "Why would they want to come to Denver?" that had dominated offseason conversations prior to Manning's arrival last March.

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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