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The Gino Gradkowski trade: What does it mean for the Broncos?

Ian St. Clair Avatar
April 1, 2015

John Elway listened and found himself another offensive lineman.

But, of course, this is another failure since no one knows about him and the fans of the team he comes from all say he stinks.

The Denver Broncos acquired center/guard Gino Gradkowski in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. The Broncos also get a 2016 fifth-round draft pick while Baltimore gets a 2016 fourth-round pick. Gradkowski is in his fourth year out of Delware. He played in eight games last season, and the year prior played and started all 16. Gradkowski was replaced at center last season by Jeremy Zuttah. Gradkowski also has dealt with knee issues, so he’ll have to pass a physical for the trade to become official.

Despite the fact Gradkowski was replaced as the starter in Baltimore last season, Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison liked what they saw (there’s no the duh statement of the day). Gradkowski knows the system, has good size and is young. But the main reason this is a good get for the Broncos is it’s low risk, high reward.

View this addition as a fourth-round pick next year since that’s all Denver gives up. And with the losses in free agency this offseason, the Broncos will get that back in compensatory picks. So they basically got a former starter for nothing.

Why is this a good get for Denver? It adds depth to a position of huge need. It also ties into what Elway wants with this roster: Kicking and screaming. Guys have to earn time on the field now. No longer is it given because you have a good relationship with the coordinator or head coach.

Given all the opinions from the “experts” that Gradkowski is terrible and he lost his starting job for a reason, he will come into Dove Valley motivated. He knows this is his second (potentially last) chance, and he will want to prove that he can play in the NFL. This also forces someone to take the job from him and vice-versa, and that’s a great thing for the Broncos offensive line. Depth is never a bad thing; especially on the offensive line (as we’ve seen the last four seasons).

Gradkowski more than likely will compete with Matt Paradis for the center job, and that pretty much sets the offensive line and who will play where.

Ryan Clady at left tackle; Ben Garland/Shelley Smith at left guard; Gradkowski/Paradis at center (unless Denver re-signs Will Montgomery); Louis Vasquez at right guard; and Michael Schofield/Chris Clark at right tackle. One could expect the Broncos to take at least one or two offensive linemen in the draft, but unless they rock it in rookie mini camp and the rest of the offseason they won’t play.

At this point, it’s all about competition. It’s about making guys earn that starting job. It’s about “kicking and screaming.”

Is Gradkowski an All-Pro? Does he lock down the center position for Denver? I have no clue. Since he played for the Ravens, there’s no way I could say yay or nay.

What I do know is his addition ties into what Elway and Kubiak want from their roster. I know that it adds depth at a crucial position for this team.

As is the case with the other roster moves Elway has made at this point, it’s low risk, high reward.

Come this time next year, fans may change their tune – just as they did with Terrance Knighton and Brandon Marshall.


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