Sean Payton didn’t waste a second making big-time moves his first offseason with the Broncos.

Within two hours of the legal tampering window opening on Monday morning, Payton and the Broncos had dished out $149.5 million in contracts to three players, including over $80 million in guaranteed money. With that spending spree, Denver landed starting right tackle Mike McGlinchey, starting left guard Ben Powers and Russell Wilson’s backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

By Monday evening, the Broncos had spent a total of $219.25 million with over $128.23 million guaranteed after re-signing Alex Singleton and signing defensive lineman Zach Allen and blocking tight end Chris Manhertz to the team. Denver continued to add as the week went on, signing running back Samaje Perine and fullback Mike Burton, to name a few.

How did Payton and George Paton do in the first wave of free agency?

The DNVR Broncos Crew dishes out their grade.

What grade would you give the Broncos for their first wave of free agency?

Zac: B+ — Not only were the Broncos ultra-aggressive in free agency, but they targeted the most pressing need on the team first and foremost by landing two impact offensive lineman.

Sean Payton and George Paton had to improve Denver’s offensive line and they did exactly that by signing Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers within the first two hours of free agency. Both are above-average players at their respective position and allow the Broncos to not worry about left guard or right tackle for years to come. What a relief.

Additionally, the Broncos landed an absolute stud in Zach Allen along the defensive line. Allen is going to fit in perfectly in Denver since he fit in perfectly in Arizona with Vance Joseph. While Dre’Mont Jones is certainly a good player, I believe Allen is an even better player for the fit moving forward.

The reason this isn’t an A grade, however, is the team overpaid for every significant signing they made outside of Powers. It’s typical for teams to overpay in free agency, so it isn’t a major knock on the Broncos. But between McGlinchey, Allen, Samaje Perine and Jarrett Stidham, Denver could have very well spent an additional $10 million combined in overpaying these four players.

Overall, however, the Broncos significantly improved their roster and deserve credit for the massive investments they made in order to do so.

RK: A — All offseason all anyone has been able to talk about is how badly the Denver Broncos need to upgrade their offensive line. So what did they do? They went out and picked up massive upgrades in Ben Powers and Mike McGlinchey.

I’m not going to sit here and complain about what they spent because this is free agency, so your options are: overpay or don’t get the players.

Add in Alex Singleton and Samaje Perine and this is a very strong free-agent class THEN add in Zach Allen and this what puts this over the top.

My friends, Zach Allen is a beast. An absolute beast. The man is absolutely relentless up front and just makes life miserable for those lining up against him. His pass rush is strong, his run defense is fantastic and his ability to bat down balls at the line might be one of the most underrated skills in the league.

George Paton and Sean Payton knocked this one out of the park.

Hank: A+ — The Broncos won free agency.

Denver entered the offseason desperate for talent in the trenches. Now they’re loaded.

They signed the best guard on the market. They signed arguably the best right tackle on the market. They added a 25-year-old defensive lineman who will be a Pro Bowl threat for the next half-decade.

Credit to Greg Penner for signing off on $235 million in spending, which was $40 million more than any other team’s free agent class. Credit to the front office for finding a way to make the nubmers work. Credit to whoever was on the phone when they convinced some of the top free agents to join a 5-12 team.

Player for player, the Broncos built the best free-agent class in the NFL. That’s worth an A+ grade.


Zac Stevens was born and raised in Denver, went to the University of Denver and now covers the Denver Broncos. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from DU in 2014, Zac worked for the Cleveland Browns as a remote scout. He then jumped straight into the journalism industry at the beginning of 2016 covering the reigning world-champion Broncos and joined DNVR soon after. Catch him on Twitter @ZacStevensDNVR and daily on the DNVR Broncos podcast as the co-host.