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10 quick thoughts on the Denver Broncos' stormy start to the new league year

Ken Pomponio Avatar
March 10, 2016


Happy (NFL) New Year.

What, Broncos Country, not in much of a celebratory mood?

Quite understandable after watching the defending champs lose six starters – Brock Osweiler, Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan, Louis Vasquez, Owen Daniels and Aaron Brewer – by the end of the first hour of the new league year.

On the flip side, the Orange & Blue only have added an offensive tackle – ex-Chief Donald Stephenson – who didn’t start of majority of K.C.’s games in any of his first four seasons.

With the frenzy still in full force, here’s 10 quick thoughts on what’s transpired so far:

  1. First, the Broncos have more or less been a victim of a perfect storm so far – i.e. entering free agency in a year with a record-high league salary cap as the defending Super Bowl champs with a long list of free agents – and some rather attractive ones at that – while possessing one of the league’s less-than-ideal salary-cap situations.
  2. Things also are stacked against the Broncos from the aspect that no fewer than four other teams – the Bears, Raiders, Dolphins and Chargers – currently have head coaches who were coordinators or head coaches with the Broncos over the last four seasons. That familiarity with the Denver roster drives the market up higher than usual with almost any available Broncos free agent of note.
  3. In the meantime, Osweiler was the beneficiary of a perfect market storm: A dearth of quality quarterbacks and a sufficient number of QB-hungry teams (Texans, Eagles) willing to overpay for those quarterbacks. And, now, how about Osweiler making his Texans’ debut starting against the team he spurned in the Sept. 8 regular-season opener in Denver? Let’s just say the options as to who the Broncos could face in the opener just got a lot more intriguing.
  4. Meanwhile, we’re left with the conclusion that the mega-QB inflation even caught general manager John Elway and Co. a little off guard as their reported offers to Osweiler kept going up and up and still ended up $2 million a season and some $7 million guaranteed short of the four-year, $72 million deal – with $37 mil guaranteed – of what the largely four-year backup received from the Texans.
  5. So, the reasoning goes, the Broncos can simply shift their sights on one of the other available QBs, such as the Jets’ Ryan Fitzpatrick, but if a player’s NFL position is quarterback by trade, they hold the leverage at the moment and most any suitor will be forced to overpay. Sure, Fitzpatrick is eight years older than Osweiler at age 33, but he’s also started 98 more games than Osweiler as well so don’t think the Ivy League-educated QB isn’t eyeing his immediate without dancing $$$ influencing his vision.
  6. Between the middle-finger vignette from Peyton Manning’s retirement news conference and Osweiler’s seeming over eagerness to get of town the minute the market opened Wednesday, we’re getting the distinct picture things were a lot more acrimonious between the quarterbacks and Gary Kubiak and his staff last season than what we’ve previously believed.
  7. The Broncos’ first-day free-agent departures definitely don’t look to be over with, either, as C.J. Anderson reportedly is drawing immediate interest from a number of teams, including Patriots, Dolphins, 49ers and Bears. Anderson is restricted free agent, but only received the lowest tender from the Broncos, meaning they only have the right to match – and five days to do – any offer Anderson receives elsewhere. If Anderson, were to depart, that would leave the Broncos without their second-leading rusher and their leading tackler, third-leading receiver and fourth-leading sacker from 2015 scarcely a week into March.
  8. In the meantime, the long-term price-tag for franchised Von Miller only keeps climbing with the likes of edge-rusher Olivier Vernon landing $85 million over five years with $52.5 million in guarantees from the Giants. Vernon has been in the league four seasons and has 19.5 fewer sacks and one fewer Super Bowl MVP than Miller during that span.
  9. In Elway, though, Broncos Country can trust given his mostly-sterling offseason track record over his five years as GM. In particular, his later-wave free-agent signings (Darian Stewart, Brandon Marshall, Daniels) and mid-to-late-round draft choices (Trevathan, Julius Thomas, Malik Jackson) have been impressive.
  10. As is evident, though, from that latter list, a few too many of these finds now have gotten away once they’ve become finds, and it might be getting time for Broncos to start recognizing that in the form of second-contract compensation.


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